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Golden Knights At Coyotes: 3 Keys To The Game

Tonight's game begins at 6:00 PM (PT). It can be seen on TV 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). The radio broadcast is on FOX Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340 AM.

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The undefeated.

Undisputed!

Heavyweight champi….

Oh nevermind. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Last night's win in Dallas was absolutely thrilling for the Golden Knights and the city of Las Vegas, and the team arrived in Arizona a bit before 1:00 AM local time on Saturday on an absolute high.

Although in the NHL, there's little time to rest on your laurels. This league is too competitive, and there are just too many games.

The next of these will be on Saturday night at 6:00 PM (PT) against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena.

The game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet:

Cox: 313/1313
DIRECTV: 684
U-verse: 757/1757
CenturyLink: 760/1760

Radio broadcast will be on FOX Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340AM.

Here are three keys to tonight's game.

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1. Beginning of a new rivalry?

Separated only by about 300 miles of highway and desert, there was the expectation by many when Vegas entered the NHL that Arizona would be its natural rival.

The Coyotes, the NHL's only desert team since arriving from Winnipeg in 1996, have never had a natural rival. Adding a second desert team to the mix with the Golden Knights was thought as something that could solve this.

For both teams, although their missions to grow the game in their markets are very much congruent.

But on the ice, the Golden Knights and Coyotes becoming rivals would be good for both franchises. Although for it to be a true rivalry to the players, it will have to be grown organically.

As in you can't force these teams to be rivals just because of geography. There will have to be heated games to force the issue.

The first opportunity for that comes Saturday, and then again on Tuesday when the Golden Knights open their regular-season home schedule against the Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena.

These teams don't know each other too well yet. However, if they're ever to become the rivals that so many hope they could become, it'll all start tonight.

 

Video: Neal, Fleury power Vegas to first franchise win

 

2. Coyotes, Golden Knights building for the future

When Vegas accumulated a league-high 12 draft picks -including three in the first round - in June, George McPhee's plans of stockpiling his team for the future were rather evident.

The Coyotes have followed a similar approach.

Having missed the playoffs every year since 2011-12, the Coyotes have undertaken a massive rebuild in recent years. Which as the team has solidified its ownership and management teams simultaneously, has the team on some of its firmest ground in years.

 

Video: VGK@DAL: Fleury dazzles with 45 saves in opener

 

Arizona was 12th of 14 teams in the Western Conference last year, so isn't exactly a contender yet. The Coyotes just have so many talented young players that it's hard to imagine them not contending in the next few years, especially as Vegas' high draft picks begin blossoming, themselves.

It should also be noted that the Coyotes don't have a single player born before 1985, and six of their 18 skaters from their season opener - a 5-4 loss - against Anaheim are former first-round picks:

-Max Domi
-Oliver Ekman-Larsson
-Clayton Keller
-Brendan Perlini
-Lawson Crouse
-Dylan Strome

 

3. Room for improvement

Last night was a memorable night for the Golden Knights, coming back late to defeat the Dallas Stars and earning the first victory in team history.

However, Vegas was outshot 46-30, and was outplayed for large portions of the game.

Fortunately, Marc-Andre Fleury played like the franchise goalie he's expected to be, stopping 45 of 46 shots. And James Neal, returning from injury, was the game breaker this team needs him to be, scoring twice in the game's final 10 minutes to seal the win.

 

Video: VGK@DAL: Neal scores twice in historic game for Vegas

 

For the Golden Knights, this is all good stuff. The team showed a lot of heart and found a way to win against what's expected to be one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

Although for Vegas to have sustained success, it'll have play better than it did on Friday. No better place to start doing that in Arizona on Saturday.

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