After many long months without any hockey, the drought ended today with the first Vegas Golden Knights preseason game of their third year. Fans flocked to T-Mobile Arena like children to a Christmas tree to watch the Golden Knights take on the Arizona Coyotes, bringing the grand total of attendees to well over 17,700.
New Faces Among Familiar Friends
While we all have players that we love, ones that have been with us for a while or even since the beginning, the preseason is the perfect opportunity to test newer players. There were familiar faces in Jonathan Marchessault, Max Pacioretty and Malcolm Subban. However, most of the lineup was full of new or slightly less familiar faces, such as Nicholas Roy, Zach Whitecloud and Dylan Coghlan.
Of the newer faces that were on the ice, one of the players who stood out the most was Coghlan. The rookie defensemen signed a three-year entry-level contract with VGK in September 2017, but has been playing in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. While he has been to the VGK development and training camps in the past, Coghlan is absolutely fighting to make this year his year. He’s standing out during practices, scored several goals in the rookie games, and assisted a goal today in the Knights’ first preseason game. Tonight he showed he’s a solid defensemen with an offensive upside. It’s quite possible we could be hearing his name more and more as the weeks proceed.
Seasoned Pros Rack Up Points
While the new guys were trying to make a good impression, the seasoned boys were aiming to get some points. Arizona drew first blood in the first period, but Pacioretty answered with a goal of his own. He scored one more goal that period, and it resulted in a tie going into the second.
The second period is when things got really spicy. With 15:05 left to go, Cody Eakin squeaked a wrist shot past Arizona goalie Erik Kallgren, bringing Vegas up 3-2.
Then, it came. With just over three minutes to go, Patches slid the puck past Kallgren, giving us the first VGK hat trick of the 2019-2020 season. And while he says the hat trick “doesn’t count for anything,” Patches was still pleased with the intensity the players showed today and glad that fans got a discount on hats the rest of the day at the Arsenal.
The third period was also notable. Reilly Smith received a tripping penalty early on. The moment the penalty was killed off, he rushed down the ice from the penalty box. No Arizona defenseman could stop him. He took the puck and slid it past Kallgren, getting a short-handed goal with a backhand shot and bringing Vegas up to 5. Brayden McNabb also earned himself a goal late into the period with an empty-netter. This resulted in the final score of a 6-2 victory for Vegas.
It should also be noted that even though he let up two goals in the first period, Subban was a brick wall the rest of the game. He was blocking shot after shot that the Coyotes sent his way. The new guys certainly helped. In an effort to appeal to Coach Gallant and new GM Kelly McCrimmon, they all played defensively.
In all, the hockey gods have smiled upon our hockey droughted desert. A little relief has trickled down in the form of some preseason puck passing. How will the lines vary as preseason goes on? Will we see more of Coghlan? We will just have to wait until Vegas plays the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday to find out!