Vegas Golden Knights Vs. Buffalo Sabres Storylines

It all starts in Buffalo as the Vegas Golden Knights prepare to get a lengthy road trip started against the Sabres.

Today’s tilt against Buffalo marks the first of a long eight-game road trip for the Vegas Golden Knights, who won’t return home until Feb. 13.

Vegas is currently riding a three-game losing streak and they will need to snap that tonight or risk losing further ground in an ultra-competitive Pacific Division.

However, it won’t be easy against a Sabres team who are fighting for their postseason lives in a stacked Atlantic Division.

And, on that note, let’s delve into some storylines we think will be worth keeping an eye on through the Vegas Golden Knights’ showdown with the Buffalo Sabres…

Storyline 1 – Marchessault’s Return

After missing five games with a lower-body injury, Jonathan Marchessault looks set to return for the Vegas Golden Knights after the forward took part in line rushes earlier today.

It will be a big boost for the Golden Knights who have missed Marchessault’s grit and energy, especially William Karlsson who is without a single point in his last seven outings, which is just rough.

Marchessault will slot back in on the top line, which will also help restore some balance to the rest of the lineup, and the tough-nosed forward is a real leader on and off the ice for this team so his presence will be welcomed back with open arms.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 23: Vegas Golden Knights players are seen on the bench during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena on December 23, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Zak Krill/NHLI via Getty Images)

Storyline 2 – Breaking out of slumps

As already mentioned, William Karlsson has failed to record a single point in his last seven outings, which is completely out of character for the forward.

Granted, all players go through slumps, even the elite, and it is hard to pinpoint exactly why Karlsson has slumped recently.

I don’t think being without linemate Jonathan Marchessault for the last five games has helped but, with the forward set to return to the lineup today, hopefully that will spark Karlsson back into life.

Another player who has struggled recently is Alex Tuch who only has four points since the beginning of December.

It has been a rough year for the forward who has had his regular season ravaged by two separate injuries, and he only has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 31 games.

If Vegas is to enjoy success this year then they will need both Karlsson and Tuch to break out of their slumps soon, and today’s tilt against Buffalo would be the perfect time to start.

BUFFALO, NY – JANUARY 11: Jack Eichel #9 of the Buffalo Sabres prepares for a faceoff skates during an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks on January 11, 2020 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Storyline 3 – King Jack

Selected with the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Eichel has always lived in the shadow of Connor McDavid who was taken with the No.1 overall pick.

However, Eichel has really elevated his game to a whole different level this year and he’s firmly in the conversation for the Hart Trophy.

Through 45 games, Eichel has 27 goals and 32 assists for 59 points and everything the Sabres do goes through their Captain.

Eichel is the heartbeat of this team and don’t be surprised if he throws his team on their back tonight in order to lead them to a crucial victory.

DETROIT, MI – JANUARY 12: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates his third period goal with teammates Jack Eichel #9, Rasmus Dahlin #26, Marcus Johansson #90 and Sam Reinhart #23 during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on January 12, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Storyline 4 – Two desperate teams

To say that both teams come into today’s showdown needing a win would be a severe understatement.

The Vegas Golden Knights have dropped three straight and are battling with a host of teams in a stacked Pacific Division, while the Buffalo Sabres are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games and are currently 10 points out of a Wildcard spot.

However, Buffalo is 13-6-3 at home this year and they are staying alive despite dealing with injuries to key forward Jeff Skinner and rookie sensation Victor Olofsson.

Vegas is in a better position than the Sabres, granted, but both of these teams need to be playing desperate hockey right now and that should make for a tantalizing game of hockey.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 11: Alex Tuch #89 of the Vegas Golden Knights faces off with Alexander Wennberg #10 of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at T-Mobile Arena on January 11, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

Storyline 5 – Come out hard

For whatever reason, the Vegas Golden Knights have recently developed a concerning habit in that they are slow to start games.

In their last six games, the Knights have allowed the first goal in the first period and they have also allowed 16 goals in the first period in the last seven games.

Although they dug themselves out of a hole to come back and stun the St. Louis Blues, you are going to lose more games than you win if you carry on spotting teams a lead in the first period.

On the road, where teams generally play a more gritty style of hockey, it will be interesting to see how the Vegas Golden Knights approach the start of the game against the Buffalo Sabres.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 07: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) in action during a regular season game against the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Storyline 6 – Lineup news

The Vegas Golden Knights held morning skate earlier today and we were given some interesting little nuggets.

Jonathan Marchessault is set to return after a five-game absence, while Nic Hague will come back into the lineup with Jon Merrill expected to be a healthy scratch.

And, finally, Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start in net while Linus Ullmark, who is 14-12-3 this year with a 2.81 Goals Against Average and a .911 Save Percentage, will go for Buffalo.

Next: Critical period here for front office

The Golden Knights are 3-1-0 all-time against the Buffalo Sabres and they will be hoping to keep their good run going against their opponents tonight in order to snap a three-game losing streak and start this long road trip on a positive note.

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