All preseason games are not created equal and Sunday's 6-2 win for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Arizona Coyotes left us with lots to unpack.
There was a hat trick, a major penalty, solid work in net and one of the best preseason crowds one will see any where in any sport.
Here's what your VGK broadcast team had to say about the game:
Gary Lawless (VGK Insider)
1. GM Kelly McCrimmon has stated Malcolm Subban is the backup goalie this season. Subban was 8-10-2 in 20 starts last season. The club needs him to win more often when he subs in for Marc-Andre Fleury. His performance Sunday, stopping 28 of 30 shots is exactly what Vegas needs from Subban this season. Good start.
2. Cody Glass and Dylan Coghlan took another step toward making the opening night roster. Glass was effective on a line with veterans Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith. He's young and still growing physically and mentally but Glass is showing he can operate with high end talent. He's cerebral and has the hockey sense to create. Pacioretty said after the game playing with Glass was "awesome."
3. Keegan Kolesar was assessed a major penalty for charging. Under the new rules in the NHL, that penalty would have been reviewed but the Situation Room in Toronto is not available for reviews or coaches' challenges in the preseason. Here's the rule change:
MAJOR & MATCH PENALTIES: Referees will be required to conduct an on-ice video review for all Major (non-fighting) and Match Penalties they assess on the ice for the purpose of: (a) "confirming" the penalty; or (b) "reducing" the penalty to a two-minute minor penalty. Referees shall not have the option to rescind a called penalty altogether.
The Referees will be provided with all available video to review their own calls but will not otherwise consult with the NHL Situation Room with respect to their review.
Dan D'Uva (Radio Play-By-Play)
1. Brayden McNabb found himself on the ice for each of Vegas' six goals Sunday - and neither of Arizona's two. His plus-6 rating grabs attention and his empty-net goal qualifies as a highlight. But it's his fundamental impact that I strive not to overlook. McNabb remains the most reliable and consistent defenseman on the Golden Knights' roster.
2. A team-high 20:41 time on ice, four hits and three blocked shots round out McNabb's Sunday stat line. Standard. And that's what Vegas should expect from the 28-year-old defenseman throughout the marathon NHL schedule. He should again be among the team's most prolific hitters, shot blockers and penalty killers. He sat for just one of the team's 89 games last season and totaled more ice time than anyone but Shea Theodore. When Theodore and Nate Schmidt swapped pairings February 16, McNabb's play never wavered.
3. Paired mostly with 21-year-old Dylan Coghlan on Sunday, McNabb was as steady as ever - especially when it comes to supporting an offensive-minded partner. Coghlan was the game's second star (one assist, plus-3) and his potential glimmered, perhaps in part due to the freedom afforded a defenseman paired with the non-flashy, ever-dependable force that is Brayden McNabb.
Shane Hnidy (TV Analyst)
1. The crowd and atmosphere for a preseason was off the charts!
2. Cody Glass put his skill set on display and he has the confidence to make plays. He's really good at shielding the puck and uses that long reach to hold off defenders. He needs to continue to elevate his play with every opportunity.
3. Rookies Dylan Coghlan, Zach Whitecloud and Jimmy Schuldt all impressed Sunday. Coghlan showed great offensive instincts and a big shot. He made some excellent first passes on zone exits and a smart play shooting for a rebound which Max Pacioretty was able to gobble up for his third goal. Whitecloud and Schuldt didn't stand out to the same degree but they are different players. Both are good skaters who made some nice detailed defensive plays using smart stick and body positioning.
Dave Goucher (TV Play-By-Play)
1. Dylan Coghlan continues to impress. For young players trying to make the team, it's all about making an impression in a good way. He's done that throughout the rookie tournament (4 goals) and the first preseason game. A great indirect pass up the boards led to Pacioretty's second goal, and a shot with a purpose created a rebound for Pacioretty's hat trick. He also made a good long pass up the middle to set up a scoring chance in the third period. He has shown good vision and instincts so far.
2. Keegan Kolesar has upped the pace of his game to combine with his physical play. He had big hit on Aaron Ness in the first period and did a good job of protecting the puck and creating a forecheck in the offensive zone. Broke through with 20 goals the last season. Continue to wonder what the components of the VGK fourth line will look like. Could he make a push for a spot?
3. Nic Roy is an interesting blend of size and strength up front. He showed some flashes of creativity between Marchessault and Zykov last night. Had a terrific playoffs for Charlotte last year leading the Checkers to the Calder Cup. Can he carry that over into the NHL? Will have to battle hard to win a spot down the middle.
Stormy Buonantony (Rinkside Reporter)
1. For it only being preseason game No. 1, Max Pacioretty looks to be in midseason form. He finished the night with a hat trick, had a hand in the first four goals of the game and seemed to gel nicely with up-and-comer Cody Glass on the top line. Pacioretty told me after the first period he wanted to make sure as a group they were playing "NHL speed right from the start" and we saw that in all areas.
2. There were a lot of penalties last night… but with that, the Golden Knights shined by holding Arizona 0-of-6 on their power play opportunities. Gerard Gallant said after the game they hadn't practiced much on special teams, so he was particularly impressed with the effort. Reilly Smith came out of the box in the 3rd period to keep the team perfect in the stat and scored shorthanded, cementing the PK success.
3. It was the first chance for the younger Golden Knights to show why they should make a roster, and there were a number of bright spots. Former No. 6 overall pick Cody Glass looked sharp on the top line centering Pacioretty and Smith… Maybe he was forcing things a bit early, but settled in and showed why he's on the cusp of making an NHL roster. Defenseman Dylan Coghlan made a name for himself at the Rookie Faceoff and we got another look at his dangerous shot on Sunday. While none of his shots on goal landed, he facilitated well, finishing the night with an assist and secondary assist, while holding his own in a physical and fast game.
Mike McKenna (TV Studio Analyst)
1. Malcolm Subban had a nice game, especially in the second period and during the penalty kills. The first period was a mess for him, very few chances and a couple goals that looked poor but had some extraneous things causing them. The first was a goofy play where he tried to catch it, then the opposing player's stick made contact with his glove (this is from Malcolm this morning to me). It's not a great goal against, and a tough start, but it's the first real game of the season. He came alive as the game went on. The second goal was simply Hinostroza being the goal scorer he is: using players as a screen and shooting just past shin guards. Subban never saw it and it would have been very difficult to find that shot for anyone. The problem is these types of goals always look bad to the casual viewer.
2. I was impressed with the line of Zykov, Marchessault, and Roy. They didn't generate points but they did have several nice chances as well as possession time. Zykov looked inspired, laying big hits and playing with an edge. Roy was excellent on the penalty kill and you noticed him with the puck. A solid first showing for him.
3. I was especially impressed with the penalty kill of the Golden Knights, especially the 5-on-3. Zach Whitecloud and Jake Bischoff were really good and played big minutes, along with Brayden McNabb and Nick Holden. What stands out about Whitecloud's game is his communication: you can hear him throughout the building barking out calls to teammates. No wonder he was +39 last year with Chicago. He may be looked at a defensive specialist at the NHL level, but I wouldn't discount his offensive upside. He plays a smart game and has shown an ability to put up points in the AHL, especially last season during the Calder Cup run. Also on the PK it's worth noting how good of a job some of the bubble players did. Gage Quinney, Curtis McKenzie, Nicolas Roy, and Patrick Brown all contributed. Quinney's speed was on display a few times during the kill.