The question to Conor Timmins: How did it go out there in your first pro game of any kind? Before the kid who just turned 19 Monday could answer, veteran Erik Johnson, sitting in the next stall over, said "He was the best D out there."
On a night when the Colorado Avalanche lost a 4-1 preseason opener against the (this is still weird to say) Vegas Golden Knights at the Pepsi Center, a strong showing from their second-round pick of 2017 was one nice positive to take from the night.
Although the stats might not look it, as Timmins finished a minus-2 with one shot on goal, he had many good moments. He wheeled behind the net with the puck effectively, evading forecheckers, generally got the puck out of the zone with a good first pass for the most part and almost scored a goal at the end of the game with some fancy deke work.
Here's the best stat for how the Avs' coaching staff felt about Timmins in this one: 21:10.
That's the ice time he received, second only on the team to Johnson's 23:02. The fact that Timmins didn't start the game paired with Johnson (Duncan Siemens was) and that he was on the ice when the Avs were pressing for a goal late, were signs of the confidence he engendered.
"I think I felt a lot better as the game went on," Timmins said. "I got used to the pace and felt pretty good. For me, I'm just trying to work on my all-around game. The defensive work will be a big part of it and getting more physical."
Asked about Johnson's compliment, Timmins said, "That obviously means a ton. He's a great mentor and obviously he's had a great career so far, and I just want to learn as much as possible."
Timmins was taken 32nd overall by the Avs in June. That was a drop from where many scouts had him projected.
"I didn't put too much thought into that, but at the same time, it motivated me," he said. "It made me want to work harder. I thought I should have been a first-round pick, and now I'm just out here trying to prove that."
For the first time since the preseason started, the Avs will take a day off, on Wednesday. More cuts are expected to be announced.
Although rookie forward Alex Kerfoot did get his name on the score sheet with a second-period assist on Nathan MacKinnon's power-play goal, he was still shaking his head after the game from missing a wide-open net on a power-play shot in the third that would have cut it to a 3-2 deficit.
"It was a great pass by MacKinnon, but I just missed it. I made a couple mistakes tonight, but it was good to get my first game," he said.
It was a rough first period for goalie Spencer Martin, who allowed three goals within the game's first eight minutes. One of the markers came on a 5-on-3 disadvantage, though, and Vegas added another on a 5-on-4. While Martin did settle down to play better after that, he was victimized from the short side on a 2-on-1 Vegas break near the end and finished with 24 saves on 28 shots.