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Blues At Golden Knights: 3 Keys To The Game

Today's game starts at 7:30. It can be seen on AT&T SportsNet. This is Cox channels 313 (SD) and 1313 (HD), DIRECTV channel 684, U-verse channels 757 (SD) and 1757 (HD), and CenturyLink channels 760 (SD) and 1760 (HD).

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

It wasn't supposed to be this way when the season started.

Although as of now, Saturday's contest between the Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues is truly a clash of Western Conference titans.

Two of the top three teams in the conference, meeting on a Saturday night on the Las Vegas Strip - what could be better?

The game starts at 7:30 PM (PT).

It can be seen on AT&T SportsNet. This is Cox channels 313 (SD) and 1313 (HD), DIRECTV channel 684, U-verse channels 757 (SD) and 1757 (HD), and CenturyLink channels 760 (SD) and 1760 (HD).

Dave Goucher and Shane Hnidy will have all the action.

Dan D'Uva will be calling the game on FOX Sports Radio. This is 98.9 FM and 1340 AM.

Here are three keys to tonight's game.

1. Silence the critics

Nobody would suggest that the Golden Knights' 5-1-0 start to the season hasn't been impressive.

At the same time, two of Vegas' victories came over a winless Arizona Coyotes team. And another came against the Buffalo Sabres, who have only won one game.

So while there really aren't any "weak" teams in today's NHL, the Golden Knights' strength of schedule hasn't been particularly high.

 

Video: Perron lifts Knights with game-winner in OT

 

The next two games, when Vegas faces the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks, the Golden Knights will be meeting two of the Western Conference's top four teams, record wise.

The Blues enter the evening leading the Western Conference with a record of 6-2-0.

While the level of competition on Saturday will be greater than anything Vegas has faced thus far, there's also a huge opportunity for the Golden Knights.

Win Saturday against this level of team and improve to 6-1-0? Even the team's harshest critics would have trouble ignoring this sort of start to the season.

 

Video: BUF@VGK: Perron scores twice, including game-winner

 

2. Worth noting

While St. Louis has been known to play a heavy, defensive-minded style for the past number of years, offense has been the Blues' calling card so far this season.

The Blues enter the evening having scored 27 goals in eight games, tied for sixth best in the league. And the Golden Knights have only faced one team so far with an offense in the top 14 in the league

RELATED: Vegas earning league-wide praise

It should be noted that the Golden Knights have only faced one team with an offense in the top 14 in the league - that was the Detroit Red Wings on October 13, the game Vegas lost.

To put it in perspective, James Neal has absolutely lit it up for the Golden Knights this season, registering six goals and eight points in six games.

St. Louis has four players with at least eight points-

-Jaden Schwartz (6G, 6A)
-Alex Pietrangelo (2G, 8A)
-Vladimir Tarasenko (5G, 4A)
-Paul Stastny (3G, 5A)

This isn't to build the Blues up to be some unconquerable foe as much as it should point out the bona fide strengths this team has that the Golden Knights will have to keep in check.

Malcolm Subban, expected to get the start in goal, will have to be at his best.

 

Video: BUF@VGK: Subban makes nice glove save on Tennyson

 

3. Old demons for Subban

Starting the last two games in favor of the injured Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban has defeated both the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres.

And with a 2.42 goals-against average and .911 save percentage, he hasn't exactly been All-Star caliber, but has been a solid, competent NHL goalie.

RELATED: Where is Subban's new equipment?

Following practice on Friday at City National Arena, head coach Gerard Gallant said the plan is for Subban to start on Saturday against the Blues.

For Subban, the Blues represent a bit of a nemesis.

His NHL debut - and one of his two NHL games before joining Vegas - came against the Blues in 2014-15, when he was a member of the Boston Bruins. And on February 20 of that season, the Blues hammered Subban, who surrendered three goals on six shots, surviving only 31:15 before being pulled from his debut.

While many of the players on the Blues have changed since that night, Saturday is Subban's return match against St. Louis, which presents a more potent attack than any of the two opponents Subban has faced so far.

Jake Allen and Carter Hutton are St. Louis' two goalies.

Allen, their usual starter, is 4-2-0, with a 2.80 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

Hutton, the backup, has actually been better this season. He is 2-0-0, with a 2.00 goals-against average and .946 save percentage.

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