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Kings At Golden Knights: 3 Keys To The Game

Today's game starts at 5:00 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

Vegas and LA. LA and Vegas.

Two cities, divides by 270 miles, connected by so much more. Different in so many ways, but often linked in the national consciousness.

Which for the first time, this season, both have NHL hockey teams. And entering the first matchup in the history of the teams, on a Sunday night, tonight, at the beginning of a holiday week, these two teams are improbably the top two in the Pacific Division.

For a long time, starting when the Kings ushered NHL hockey into Las Vegas by playing outdoors at Caesars Palace in 1991, this was a Kings town.

But now this is a Knights town.

Tonight's game is just game No. 19 on the schedule, sure. For many reasons, however, it has far greater meaning.

Sunday's game can be seen at 5:00 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: The return of Malcolm Subban

 

1. Legace Again

Ever since Oscar Dansk went down to injury on October 30, it's been as if the Golden Knights have been treading water.

With Dansk, Malcolm Subban and Marc-Andre Fleury all on the shelf, Vegas has leaned on No. 4 goalie Maxime Lagace to make all of the team's starts. And at 3-5-1, Vegas treaded water, yes, but didn't play up to the standard it set when it started the season at 8-1-0.

 

Video: Malcolm Subban was activated from IR on Friday

 

On Friday, however, Subban was activated from injured reserve, sending emergency callup Dylan Ferguson back to juniors and helping refortify the Golden Knights in goal.

Vegas won't be at full strength in the crease, of course, until starter Marc-Andre Fleury is back.

But with No. 2 string Subban back on the roster to join Lagace, Vegas is much more the team it was built to be at the start of the season.

Subban is 2-0-0 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .936 save percentage this season.

But he won't play today.

Earlier today, coach Gerard Gallant said that Maxime Lagace would play again today, citing his performance in Vancouver on Thursday and wanting to get Subban more practice as reasons.

So it'll be Lagace again today, and with Subban waiting in the wings, Maxime will need a strong start today to keep his place in the crease.

 

Video: Maxime Lagace spoke after practice on Saturday

 

2. Own Home Ice

When the Golden Knights entered the league, it was understood that other teams' fan bases would be well represented in games at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas is a worldwide destination city, after all.

However, Sunday's game is a bit different in this regard. For many years, the Kings were the team of choice for Las Vegans.

The Kings were long the closest NHL team to Las Vegas, their games were on TV here, and they played here every preseason for almost two decades with Frozen Fury.

So as much as LA is only 270 miles away and an easy weekend trip for Kings fans, the Golden Knights have been steadily converting several former Kings fans who live in Las Vegas into VGK fans.

 

Video: Gerard Gallant spoke the day before Vegas plays LA

 

Given the Kings' history in this city, it would make an awful loud statement for the Golden Knights to defeat them today. And to not give LA fans much to cheer about, establishing T-Mobile Arena firmly as this team's home rink.

At 7-1-0, Vegas has been absolutely dominant at home, establishing its home rink as a place opponents don't want to play.

If there was ever a game the Golden Knights had to have in order to establish, beyond the importance of a single game, it would be today.

 

3. Oh Yeah, The Standings

Besides being a game to establish the Golden Knights' presence in Las Vegas, besides being a valuable home game in a long stretch of mostly road games, today's game is also extremely important in the Pacific Division standings.

The Kings enter with 26 to the Golden Knights 23 - the top two in the Pacific Division.

Not one ounce of shade intended here, but these teams actually had the same amount of playoff wins last year.

The Kings, coming off Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014, have missed the playoffs in two of the past three years, and have reinvented themselves a bit this year.

LA replaced general manager Dean Lombardi with franchise icon Rob Blake, and popular head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens.

"I think they're a little more offensive, the way they're playing, too," Gerard Gallant said. "I don't think it's changed a lot in the D zone. They're still a competitive team and play hard. But I think they try to play a little more offensive.

"LA, they've got a lot young players that you haven't really heard of, but they're good young players. They've got some good players that are working hard and competing hard. They might not be the big-name players you hear from LA in the past, but they're a good team and they compete hard every night."

The Kings are also still backed up by goalie Jonathan Quick, who has the Kings positioned as the league's second ranked defensive team.

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