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Sabres At Golden Knights: 3 Keys To The Game

Today's game starts at 7:00. 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

After the Golden Knights surrendered four third-period goals and lost 6-3 to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, many experts expected it to be the beginning of the end for a first-year squad of whom not much was expected.

Vegas instead responded with its most structurally sound game of the season, defeating the Boston Bruins 3-1 on Sunday.

Tonight, the Golden Knights look to improve to 5-1-0 against the Buffalo Sabres, the fourth game in the team's season-high seven game homestand.

The game 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.

1. Is this a dream or is this reality?

Let's face it. The Golden Knights are an expansion team. And generally, expansion teams don't perform very well in their first seasons.

In fact, in the modern era, the most successful first-year expansion team was the Florida Panthers, who went 33-34-17 in 1993-94.

The Golden Knights, meanwhile, enter tonight's game with a record of 4-1-0.

 

Video: Malcolm Subban has become the center of attention

 

For many experts, there still seems to be an expectation that the other shoe is going to drop at some point, and this team is going to stop performing well.

But if Vegas wins tonight…5-1-0 would be better than these teams:

Anaheim Ducks: 2-3-1
Dallas Stars: 2-3-0
Minnesota Wild: 1-1-2
San Jose Sharks: 1-3-0
Edmonton Oilers: 1-3-0

And that's just the Western Conference.

The Golden Knights currently also have a better record than the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens.

We know, five games is an awfully small sample size. But still, this is a first-year expansion team and from now until the end of the season, experts will expect the wheels to fall off.

At the same time, at what point would this turn from a good start into Vegas having a good season? 5-1-0 would hardly be something to scoff at.
 

2. Malcolm Malcolm Malcolm

When Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on the injured reserve list on Sunday, those experts, expecting the Golden Knights to fall off, thought Sunday's game against the Bruins was when the plunge would start.

A lot of this expectation was attributed to the presence of Malcolm Subban in goal. Subban is a former first-round pick of the Boston Bruins, but has spent most of his pro career in the minors. With this background, expectations - to many, but not the team - weren't high.

 

Video: Malcolm Subban has become the center of attention

 

Subban instead was brilliant, stopping 21 of 22 shots against his former team and holding a shutout until the game's final minute.

Can Subban continue this success against Buffalo?

We'll see.

Watching how Subban performs, however, will be a central storyline this evening.

 

3. Sabres reeling

The Buffalo Sabres haven't made the playoffs since 2010-11, the second longest streak of missing the playoffs in the NHL behind the Carolina Hurricanes.

As the Sabres have continued to accumulate high draft picks - and this team has some talent - they've been expected to break through for a number of year. Buffalo, however, has only won one of its first six games this season. That came in their most recent game, picking up a 3-1 win in Anaheim on Sunday.

 

Video: Gallant spoke the day after his team defeated BOS

 

Buffalo's biggest threat is that its top offensive players are young, fast, dynamic and can put the puck in the net.

Jack Eichel, the second overall pick to Connor McDavid in 2015, has seven points (2G, 5A) in his first six games. Evander Kane, who's still only 26, had four goals and three assists in those six games.

Although the Sabres don't quite have the depth of some other teams yet, their top players are dangerous. If Vegas can limit the chances of these top players, a victory is by no means out of the question.

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