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Golden Knights At Ducks: 3 Keys To The Game

Fleury's debut, battles for roster spots are the story. FOX Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340 AM has the call at 5 PM (PT)

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Sunday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center should be rather telling for the Golden Knights.

For one, it'll see the debut of Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. Secondly, the team's lineup will not see many of its top offensive players, with most of the players in the lineup right on the bubble of making or not making the NHL roster.

As training camp progresses (more than 18 players have already been cut) there's a good chance that Sunday is the last chance for many of these players to prove why they should be on the roster for Opening Night.

"There are 17 or 18 guys that are set, and then there's jobs to be won," coach Gerard Gallant said. "We'll be saying this up until the last two games probably."

Here are three keys to today's game against the Anaheim Ducks. It will be broadcast on FOX Sports Radio 98.9 FM/1340 AM, beginning shortly after 5:00 PM (PT).

1. Flower

While the game will mean more to the Golden Knights vying for NHL roster spots, it's hard not to lead with Marc-Andre Fleury.

The three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie, acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in June's Expansion Draft, is the most recognizable player the Golden Knights have. He's won championships - as recently as June - been on Olympic teams, and been one of the league's more recognizable faces for more than a decade.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Fleury shared some immediate reaction to learning he'll be making his first start for his new team�� pic.twitter.com/TO0XISKP4W

 

For Vegas, Dylan Ferguson (sent back to juniors), Maxime Lagace (probable AHLer) and Calvin Pickard started the first three preseason games. Fleury, however, figures to get most of the starts in goal for the Golden Knights during the regular season.

His presence is vital to this team's success this season, and he is expected to play a key role in bringing the sport of hockey to new fans throughout Southern Nevada in the process.

Although to him, Sunday matters more in terms of feeling right and getting ready for the season than for how many saves he makes, it is his debut.

He has spent his entire 13-year career with Pittsburgh.

Sunday is the first time we'll see him in game action as a Golden Knight.


2. Those roster battles

On Saturday, the Golden Knights announced the team's lineup for Sunday.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS' FULL LINEUP

Although this may be speculative, you'd have to figure that forwards Erik Haula and William Karlsson safely have NHL roster spots, as would defensemen Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller and Jason Garrison.

Other than that, though?

Vadim Shipachyov, David Perron and Jonathan Marchessault are all not in the lineup. Neither is defensemen Nate Schmidt and Jon Merrill.

All of these players figure to probably have NHL roster spots locked up.

But how about Brad Hunt? This defenseman has had a goal and three assists in the preseason, and forced himself into a discussion that entering training camp didn't suggest he had much of chance for an NHL roster spot.

 

Video: VGK@COL: Hunt rips a slap shot top corner

 

Ditto for Tomas Hyka, a Czech forward who scored in each Rookie Camp game against the LA Kings last week and in both preseason games in Vancouver and Colorado.

 

Video: VGK@VAN: Hyka roofs his second goal of the game

 

Throughout the team's lineup, Sunday won't be the most top-heavy lineup Vegas will ever dress.

But with the absence of the team's top gunners and presence of a lot of players fighting for roster spots (and their careers in some cases), Sunday should tell quite a story about who'll be with the team when the regular season begins October 6.

 

3. One for the road

Gallant has suggested the NHL roster may be set by the time his team plays its final two preseason games. Those would be this Thursday against Colorado and next Sunday against San Jose at T-Mobile Arena.

RELATED: Golden Knights Schedule

This would give the Golden Knights two more games to figure out what's what before making these decisions.

Although Sunday is the team's final road game of the preseason.

It should be noted that the next time the Golden Knights play will be the team's first-ever game at T-Mobile Arena. That will be Tuesday against the LA Kings.

Records don't mean a whole heck of a lot in preseason.

But a Vegas win Sunday would secure a 3-1-0 mark on the road to start the preseason. So even though preseason records - last season's Colorado Avalanche went undefeated in preseason, after all - don't mean too much, this would be an impressive way for the Golden Knights to have started things off.

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