It's been over a year since the Buffalo Sabres last played the Vegas Golden Knights. The two teams met in Buffalo during the first week of last season and concluded their season series in Las Vegas eight days later, with the home team winning each game.
So, yeah, there might be some unfamiliarity when the teams meet tonight at KeyBank Center. But that didn't prevent Sabres coach Ralph Krueger from laying out a clear outline regarding what he expects to see from the Golden Knights.
"It's definitely an outstanding challenge for us, because we are attempting to play a 60-minute game within a certain guideline of parameters and principles and concepts, and Vegas does it as well as anybody in the league, so a lot of respect for what they're doing there and the challenge," he said.
"But it's a perfect measuring stick for us, where we're at in being able to match a team with that discipline in your own personal execution, because the team that sticks to their game plan the most diligently tonight will win."
Video: PREGAME: Krueger
The Sabres are looking for their fourth win in six games, coming off a 5-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday. They're also, Krueger said, looking to put forth a strong effort for the home crowd after a disappointing conclusion to their loss to Vancouver at KeyBank Center on Saturday.
The Golden Knights come to town having played seven straight games at home, the last three of which were losses. They have been outscored 14-0 in the first periods of their last four contests, an uncharacteristic problem for a team that remains plus-29 in the first period this season and has been a model of consistency since entering the NHL in 2017.
Defenseman Colin Miller was a member of the team for its first two seasons and still ranks ninth on the franchise leaderboard with 70 points.
"They know their systems, they play them really well and they're connected in all zones throughout their game," Miller said. "They're a tough team to beat."
Miller is a candidate to return to the lineup after being scratched the past two games, though the Sabres' roster will not be revealed until pregame warmups. If he does play, Krueger wants to see the defenseman continue to trend toward bringing the offensive game that became customary during his two seasons in Vegas.
"Colin is a good one for just continuing to adapt to what we want to see," Krueger said. "What he has for sure is he has an ability to add an offensive punch, which we believe is still going to evolve here with us. I've always told you, you lose a little of your offense as you get used to the defensive concepts of a group and trying to find your way within that system, and that's been his situation.
"I'm sure his offense will bloom as he continues to learn to be that player we need without the puck, and he's working hard at it. We love having him on the team. He's an important part of our group character-wise and also in the games he has that ability to add the offense that we need from our defensive corps."
Linus Ullmark will start in net, coming off a 21-save outing in the victory over the Detroit on Sunday. It will be his first career meeting with the Golden Knights.
• Jack Eichel is streaking again, having now recorded a point in seven straight games after tallying an assist in Detroit. A point tonight would make him the fifth player to record two separate point streaks of eight games or more this season, joining John Carlson, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, and David Pastrnak.
• Rasmus Dahlin's point streak is up to four games, with five assists in the span.
• Zemgus Girgensons has scored in two straight contests. He skated this morning on a line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart after playing in that spot Sunday.
Coverage on MSG begins at 6:30 p.m. You can also listen on WGR 550, with puck drop set for 7.