Sabres Game Preview: Game 12/82

The Buffalo Sabres are back on home ice as they take on the Calgary Flames. Calgary is fresh off a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs who were without star player Auston Matthews. The Flames found goals from Monahan, Lindholm, and Frolik and outshot the Maple Leafs 34 to 25. Their only goal against came on a controversial 5v3 call. With Mike Smith in net for last night’s tilt, there is speculation that the Sabres will draw a matchup against Rittich. This was confirmed just before the article was posted!

The Buffalo Sabres are looking to bounce back from a disappointing OT loss in Columbus on Saturday evening. The Sabres had no answer for the top line of Atkinson-Dubois-Panarin as they combined for all 5 Blue Jacket goals. One could draw the comparison between the top unit in Columbus and that of Calgary who deploy Gaudreau-Monahan-Lindholm with similar TOI and possession dominance. If you missed Ellis Lindholm’s goal last night then I suggest you check it out here and see what this line can do together.

You can expect Housley to try and match Ristolainen and Dahlin against this top unit tonight as much as possible. Another important note from our previous game in that Casey Mittelstadt had his first goal on the season while on the top powerplay. Interestingly though, Mittelstadt only had a total of 9:44 of TOI with only 5:37 coming at 5v5 which was the lowest on the team. Unsurprisingly, Eichel leads all forwards with 21+ minutes of TOI and I believe this trend will continue.

Calgary is a team that will give their top 5 forwards 20+ minutes a night. Monahan, Tkachuk, Gaudreau, Lindholm, and Backlund will be on the ice for seemingly the entire game. Backlund has had one of the highest iCorsi/60 in the entire league this season. This team does not roll four lines and this mentality is shown with their defense as well.

Giordano and Brodie will lead the team in TOI while Hamonic-Hanifin will follow not far behind. The rookie duo of Valmaki and Rasmus Andersson (GREAT FIRST NAME) gets substantially less run. The special teams in Calgary have been sub-par to start the year ranking 27th in PK% and 21st in PP% (Hockey-reference.com). Of course, it is too early to take much from these numbers, Calgary has had the most power-play opportunities in the NHL.

The Sabres come back to Buffalo with a chance to take advantage of a team playing a road back-to-back and David Rittich in net. Rittich has posted a .933 SV% and 2-1 record as the back-up. I wouldn’t read too much into that as a narrative, but it is worth noting. The Buffalo Sabres will be backed by Carter Hutton who has a respectable .905 SV% through the start of the season. This game should be close so keep an eye on the goalie play from the less experienced Rittich who at 26 years old, has only started 19 total NHL games.

Quick Notes:

  • On March 7th of last season, Rittich came into Buffalo and stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Flames won.
  • Jack Eichel has not scored since his two-goal night against the Vegas Golden Knights on October 8th. His shooting% is 6.7% which is 3.5% lower than last season.
  • The all-time record against the Flames is 52-37-16-2 with the previously mentioned last meeting being a loss.
  • Elias Lindholm has done his best William Karlsson impression scoring 8 goals in 12 games while sustaining a 26.8 S%. He’s scored in 3 of their last 4 games.
  • Evan Rodrigues welcomed his first child into the world. His wife delivered a healthy baby boy. That being said, he’s a scratch tonight.
  • Jake McCabe sustained an upper-body injury in Columbus and will not dress for tonight’s game.
  • Bill Peters said Calgary will roster the same team and lines with only the change in net.
  • Buffalo will need to find secondary scoring against the bottom lines/bottom defensive pair in order to come out of this game with two points.

Buffalo Sabres Lines in Morning Skate

Notes:

  • The only change for forwards is that Mittelstadt and Sobotka have swapped spots from the previous game
  • Dahlin is up with Risto while McCabe is scratched, and Beaulieu draws back in the lineup

Follow @TheChargingBUF on twitter for more updates and analysis.

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