The amount of pull a professional sports team can garner by bringing more than 17,000 people to its house on the Lord’s day, for the ever-loving preseason opener no less, really is absurd.
It doesn’t matter if the Golden Knights throw combinations of six starters from and a mosh-posh of rookies and fringe players. The people turn up. It’s an environment where wins and losses don’t matter at the moment, but there are people who want to see that cluster do something on the ice.
The end result is throwing their hat away that they didn’t plan to because Max Pacioretty recorded a hat trick in Vegas’ 6-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL’s preseason opener.
“As much as you don’t care, in the moment, you want to fight and you’re going to battle,” Pacioretty said. “I’m happy that we won the game, even though it’s preseason, even though it’s the first one. We had a lot of rookies in. I’m happy that guys like [Cody] Glass ... I’m happy that they all had success.”
This was the first rehearsal for the younger Knights looking to make the main roster, including the aforementioned Glass, the former No. 6 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The young center was on the top line with Pacioretty and Reilly Smith, an indication that he is on the cusp.
He had an assist on Pacioretty’s third goal at 16:53 of the second period. The secondary assist came on behalf of defenseman Dylan Coghlan, another name looking to seize that opportunity.
That’s what this first preseason game is really for. Pacioretty doesn’t need this stage, even though he now has six points (four goals, two assists) in two career Vegas preseason openers. That effort slots Pacioretty in the top-three of the Golden Knights’ preseason hall-of-fame behind Tyler Wong and Dylan Ferguson.
Speaking of the young lad Ferguson, he was supposed to start this afternoon but wasn’t feeling well, per coach Gerard Gallant.
Malcolm Subban graced the crease for a rare early preseason start and played relatively well; 29 saves, including stopping his last 26 shots seen. That was the good. The bad was the two goals allowed in the first period; first where he couldn’t corral the shot from Ilya Lyubushkin and the puck trickled under his pads at 4 minutes of the first, and then Vinnie Hinostroza beat him clean off a bad line change from Vegas at 9:08.
Other than that, Subban played relatively well in a spot that might benefit him more. It’s uncertain when he’ll see the ice this season as long as Marc-Andre Fleury plays well/if there are enough days to get Fleury some warranted rest.
“The more Malcolm could play in preseason, the better off we’ll be,” Gallant said. “It was good for him to play tonight. Went in there and played a pretty solid game.”
Some other notes from this contest:
- The battle for the blue line is underway. There were some high points. Jimmy Schuldt made a couple of really good plays with his stick, including halting a 2-on-1 led by Hinostroza. He had some time on the second power play unit to showcase his shot, which has been really good in camp. Zach Whitecloud was paired with Schuldt; the two were on the ice for the second goal allowed, but other than that mishap, it was a solid start for that pairing. Jake Bischoff was quiet, but his partner Nick Holden had the assist on Pacioretty’s first goal. Those two will be names to watch as the seventh defenseman. Brayden McNabb scored a goal. That’s it. That’s the breakdown.
- Good lord, this was a physical game. The box score reads a combined 72 hits, with Arizona dishing 37 of them. I don’t really know how that happened, but what I do know is Pacioretty damn near killed birthday boy Jan Jenik.
Max Pacioretty literally murders a man along the half boards, but Subban has one trickle past him. Coyotes lead 1-0. pic.twitter.com/2mr8YvbPEB— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) September 15, 2019
Then Keegan Kolesar, fighting for some minutes with the absence of Ryan Reaves, got into a fight after running over defenseman Aaron Ness. Kolesar was given a five-minute major but returned in the second period.
Here's what led to the fight between Kolesar and Fischer. Not a good hit at all. Kolesar's night is done. pic.twitter.com/dCmvyaOZdn— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) September 15, 2019
But the birthday boy was not done. He gets into a tussle with Vegas forward Patrick Brown toward the end of the second period, because why not?
All we’re missing is Nicolas Roy getting called for tripping by bringing a man down by his face. This was a bit much for a preseason game, but maybe the Golden Knights are getting it out of the way with the Sharks on the horizon this week. Just a thought.
- Speaking of five-minute majors, the Golden Knights did not allow four goals in less than five minutes. That’s a start. The penalty kill was rather spectacular. Exact numbers are not available for the box score, but there were about 1 million penalties, so that’s an astronomical percentage.
- I’m not going to think too much about Pacioretty and Smith being on the same line, and nor should you, but I keep going back to the possibility of Mark Stone and William Karlsson seeing some time together at some point. It’s preseason, and you shouldn’t read into anything. But if Gallant wanted to, he got his first glimpse of those two together. Just throw in Paul Stastny instead of the young Glass in the middle. It’s likely not happening, but you get the sense that if it could happen, maybe it’s worth trying. Maybe that’ll be a thing later this week.
- As everyone made their way to the locker room after the final horn sounded, this happened about 10 minutes away from T-Mobile Arena.
Shoutout to the Las Vegas Aces and Dearica Hamby. Absolutely nuts.
The Golden Knights continue their preseason Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.