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Golden Knights At Canucks: 3 Keys To The Game

Thursday's game starts at 7:00 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).

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Oh boy, could tonight's game change the complexion of how the Golden Knights feel about themselves.

Following Tuesday's 8-2 loss in Edmonton, the team's outlook is obvious not as positive as it was even only a few weeks ago, when Vegas departed for a six-game road trip with an 8-1-0 record.

Five losses in six games on that trip, coupled with the Golden Knights' record over the past week, has Vegas at 10-6-1.

Still excellent for an expansion team, of course.

But after an 8-2 loss to the Oilers tonight, a win against the Vancouver Canucks tonight would split the team's current two-game road trip, bringing the Golden Knights home to T-Mobile Arena with an 11-6-1 record and some momentum.

Tuesday's game can be seen at 7:00 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.

Video: Malcolm Subban remains on IR, but practiced Wednesday


1. Goaltending Plot Thickens

For the Golden Knights, who's playing goal has been all the rage, ever since Marc-Andre Fleury went down in the fourth game of the season.

After Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk also went down, Maxime Lagace has assumed the role as the team's starter. Although after giving up seven goals on Tuesday, he was removed to make way for Dylan Ferguson, a 19-year-old junior goalie called up only out of the direness of the team's current injury situation.

RELATED: Subban, Lagace both practice on Wednesday

There was some speculation also that Lagace may have been banged up against the Oilers, when he wasn't on the bench during the game's final nine minutes.

Lagace, however, skated in practice in Vancouver on Wednesday. The plot thickened due to the presence of Malcolm Subban in practice as well.

Subban, who's above Lagace on the depth chart, hasn't played since October 21, when he went down with a lower-body injury.

Subban is still on IR, so would have to be activated in order to play on Thursday. He said that he was "close" to returning, although "how close" couldn't be confirmed.

Do the Golden Knights make a move that allows Subban to return tonight? The more likely scenario seems to be for Lagace to start again.

UPDATE: Gerard Gallant confirms at the team's morning skate that Maxime Lagace will start in goal.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Gallant says that the plan is for Maxime Lagace to start in goal tonight.

 

2. Either Way, Must Be Better

While much of the focus heading into Thursday's game against the Canucks will be on who plays goal for the Golden Knights, it kind of belies the point. That whoever plays goal, they must raise their game.

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Vegas has lost six out of its last seven games -although one was in OT-on the road, and has often been doomed by disastrous starts that have put the Golden Knights multiple goals behind, early in games.

 

Video: James Neal scored his team-best 10th goal on Tuesday

 

This team feels like it's confident in every game it plays. Except, it's awfully hard to be confident when you're down 2-0 15 minutes into the game. Not to mention, doing this develops holes that are usually too big to climb out of.

This team doesn't even necessarily need to be ahead early in the game. Just don't fall behind early.

This could give the Golden Knights just the sort of boost they need to complement their 7-1-0 record on home ice.

While the attention will be on who starts in goal, just as important is how whoever that goalie is in the game's first 10 minutes.

 

Video: Gerard Gallant addressed Malcolm Subban's return

 

3. Mirror Images

No, the Canucks aren't an expansion team. Although the team's situation does have some similarities to that of the Golden Knights.

With 75 points in the 2015-16 season and only 69 points last season, the Canucks have been a team on an obvious downswing. And with franchise stalwarts Henrik and Daniel Sedin now in the twilights of their standout careers, the outside perception has been that Vancouver has been a team that's rebuilding.

If you asked most pundits, the Canucks were given the same chances of making the playoffs this season as the Golden Knights…none.

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But under new head coach Travis Green, with the emergence of young scoring stars like Brock Boeser, the Canucks have surprised.

9-7-2 isn't the 1984 Edmonton Oilers, but for Vancouver, it's a definite sign of life.

But the Canucks have lost three of five and four of seven, which to many, as some view Vegas, is a sign this team is returning to Earth after a strong start.

As division rivals at similar stages of building their teams, the Canucks will be a team the Golden Knights are constantly compared to. That starts tonight.

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