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Sharks At Golden Knights: 3 Keys To The Game

The Golden Knights play their final preseason game at 5:00 PM (PT) on Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The final day of preseason.

Depending on where you stand, this could bring as much trepidation as it means joy.

For many veterans with established roster spots, preseason is a grueling exercise, with its end nearly on par with Christmas morning, birthdays or winning the lottery. These players are happy preseason is over, just so they can begin playing games that count.

For other players, however, the end of preseason is met with a bit of gloom. For the players who've arrived in camp trying to make the team, it's akin to report card day.

This will be their final chance to show why they belong on the regular-season roster.

For all players under the Golden Knights banner, this finishes with a game against the San Jose Sharks at 5:00 today at T-Mobile Arena.

Here are three keys to today's game.

1. Final Remaining Spots

Most of today's lineup, it appears, will be Vegas' regular lineup when the regular season opens on Friday in Dallas.

RELATED: Golden Knights lineup

There are a few names listed, who it's been suggested are still trying to earn roster spots.

Alex Tuch, a highly-touted 21-year-old, has been one of the most complete players in camp. His performance suggests that he's earned himself an awfully long look, but with one final game, Sunday could be his chance to solidify his place.

 

Video: Alex Tuch has moved into the NHL locker room

 

Ditto for Tomas Nosek and defensemen Luca Sbisa and Shea Theodore, the latter of whom have been locked in a fierce competition on a crowded blue line for the team's defensive roster spots.

Tomas Hyka, the team's leading goal scorer in preseason, has also been on the bubble, but will not be in Sunday's lineup.

When the dust clears after the game, we should have a better idea of where these players will begin their season. George McPhee has until Tuesday to submit his final roster to the NHL.

 

2. Flower Power

Marc-Andre Fleury has started two games in preseason.

Last Sunday, he brilliantly stopped 26 of 28 shots and defeated the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. He had a few hiccups on Thursday, however, surrendering four goals and taking the loss against the Colorado Avalanche.

 

Video: COL@VGK: Fleury shuts down Landeskog's one-timer

 

For veterans like Fleury, preseason goals-against and wins and losses don't mean a whole heck of a lot. For these players, preseason exists just to get themselves ready for the regular season.

RELATED: Game Day Information

Fleury figures to get some playing time this afternoon, which will be his final preparation for the regular season. He figures to get the bulk of time for Vegas this season.

 

3. Home Ice

For any team, winning on home ice is crucial.

For the Golden Knights, it is critical.

 

Video: Gallant speaks before the final VGK preseason game

 

Many Western Conference teams have extended homestands and road trips throughout the season. This is done for convenience, as to keep teams from flying coast to coast throughout the season to play a single game. Instead, teams will shoot to the east coast and play maybe five games, while returning home for weeks on end. This is opposed to Eastern Conference teams, who often go on road trips for a single game, rotating between home and road throughout the year.

With the Golden Knights often falling into the traditional Western Conference schedule pattern this year, the team will have many extended homestands and road trips.

 

Video: Merrill spoke after practice at City National Arena

 

For Vegas, however, most of these road trips fall in the middle of the season. The Golden Knights play seven games in a row at home beginning with October 10's home opener. For a chance to make the playoffs, you'd have to figure the Golden Knights will have to get off to a strong start at home to give themselves a cushion heading into the stickier parts of the schedule throughout the winter.

Although preseason wins and losses don't mean too much, the Golden Knights have lost two straight at T-Mobile Arena this week.

Getting a home win under their belt on Sunday to begin establishing this home-ice advantage wouldn't be the worst thing for this team.

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