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Coyotes At Golden Knights: 3 Keys To The Game

Tonight's home opener will be televised on NBCSN at 7:00 PM (PT); FOX Sports Radio has the call on 98.9 FM/1340 AM

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The first home game in team history.

Playing in the midst of heightened emotion around the city of Las Vegas.

The first nationally televised game in team history on NBCSN, as well as the opportunity to become the first team in the NHL's 100-year history to win its first three games.

This is the scene for the Golden Knights' game against the Arizona Coyotes tonight at 7:00 PM.

Here are three keys to the game.

1. Don't get overwhelmed by the moment

Under any circumstances, playing the first home game in the history of a franchise - and the first franchise in any sport for a city - is emotional.

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Given the tragic events of last Sunday and the ceremony that will now take place before tonight's game at T-Mobile Arena, the passion that we will see before tonight's game against the Arizona Coyotes might be unlike anything else we've ever seen in professional sports.

 

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For hockey players, of course, tonight is also about winning a hockey game. Given the amount of things going on around this team and this city, everything outside of hockey might be difficult to block out.

In fact, it's probably impossible.

The task for the Golden Knights tonight is not to ignore everything that's going on around them as much as channeling it toward a better performance.

The fervor of tonight's home crowd could be a tremendous advantage for the Golden Knights, if used correctly.

 

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2. Full 60 minutes


It's a cliché. My God, we know it's a cliché.

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In hockey, the mantra of players "playing a full 60 minutes" is repeated over and over again, to the point it nearly comes across as meaningless.

For the Golden Knights, in both of the team's first two games, they were able to summon late comebacks to stun both the Dallas Stars and these very same Arizona Coyotes. In the NHL, however, third-period comebacks are nearly as rare as ninth inning comebacks would be in baseball.

 

Video: Neal, Schmidt lead Golden Knights past Coyotes in OT

 

So to count on mounting a late comeback every night might not be a recipe for long-term success.

To date, every single Golden Knights goal - all four - have been scored in the third period. All four have originated from a shot by James Neal, including Nate Schmidt's game-tying goal Saturday, which came out of a broken play of a Neal shot.

As strong as the line of Neal, Cody Eakin and David Perron has been, as thrilling as the late comebacks has been, spreading the offense out throughout the lineup and throughout the game will be necessary to stay undefeated after this evening.

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3. History on the horizon

When the Golden Knights defeated Arizona on Saturday, they became the first expansion team in 50 years to start out 2-0-0.

The two expansion teams to start out 2-0-0 were the 1967-68 Los Angeles Kings and California Seals, although it must be noted that those teams started out 2-0-0 by virtue of defeating other expansion teams in each of their first two games.

 

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If you want to find an expansion team to start out 2-0-0 without defeating another expansion team, you have to go back to the 1926-27 Chicago Black Hawks (two words back then) and New York Rangers, and to a team called the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925-26.

The Montreal Canadiens also won their first two NHL games in 1917-18, the NHL's first season, when every team in the league was new.

None of these teams, however, managed to win each of their first three games. Should Vegas defeat Arizona tonight, it will be the first team in the league's 100-year history to accomplish the feat.

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