Sabres Projected Lines
Victor Olofsson – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner – Marcus Johansson – Vladimir Sobotka
Jimmy Vesey – Casey Mittelstadt – Evan Rodrigues
Zemgus Girgensons – Johan Larsson – Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Colin Miller
Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella – Henri Jokiharju
Kings Projected Lines
Alex Iafallo – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Blake Lizotte – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Ilya Kovalchuk – Mike Amadio – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Adrian Kempe – Austin Wagner
Ben Hutton – Drew Doughtey
Alec Martinez – Sean Walker
Jokiam Ryan – Matt Roy
1. Offensive fireworks for the Sabres?
The Sabres are tied for 7th in goals for per game at 3.71 and 2nd in NHL on PP at 35.7%. LA is 31st in goals against per game at 4.67 and 26th on the PK at 65%, it could be an offensive explosion.
The interesting part about the Kings’ inability to keep pucks out of their net: They takes a ton of shots (36.3 per game, 2nd in the NHL) and prevents shots themselves (29.3 per game, 5th in the NHL). It doesn’t help Jonathan Quick is posting a 6.33 goals against average and .793 save percentage.
The Kings don’t give up a lot of shots, but a high percentage of them are going in, so get pucks and bodies to the net. The pretty ones count just as much as the ugly ones.
2. Expect a hot start from LA
It’s to be expected Los Angeles is aware of how Anaheim defended Buffalo last night. Preventing time and space with their speed and physicality worked for the Ducks and could work for LA too. They’re another heavy west coast team and they had yesterday off, so getting the jump on the Sabres will be in their game plans.
While many will be looking at the bottom six of LA, especially Lewis, Wagner and Clifford, but Dustin Brown can cause havoc any given night. A mix of speed, skill and grit on the Kings first line, shutting Koptiar and company will be key for a successful night at the Staples Center.
3. Vesey – Mittelstadt – Rodriguess need to start producing
Between these three, they have two points. Both of those points belong to Casey Mittelstadt in the first game of the season versus the Penguins. That’s just not going to cut it. Girgensons – Larsson – Okposo are getting more ice time and deservedly so.
I was one calling for ERod to play and sit one of Sobotka, Girgs, Larry and KO, but I’m not sure I can make that argument right now. All four have outperformed not only Rodrigues, but Vesey as well. These three need to find their scoring touch sometime, why not tonight with a below-league-average defense and the backup?
Players to watch
Kings – Tyler Toffoli
Highly touted on Sabres Twitter, this will be fans first opportunity to see Toffoli in action this season. Toffoli has a pair of goals and assists through the first six games and will want to continue on that pace as he’s in a contract year. Whether the Kings keep him or look to ship him for assets (Jason, kick the tires at least please), he will be looking for a healthy raise.
Michael Amadio could have been considered as he is quietly seeing his play reflect positively on the advanced statistics side of the game, but for the sake of Sabres fans showing the desire to acquire Toffoli, my eyes will be on his performance tonight.
Sabres – Carter Hutton
Coming off a 4-0 shutout in his last game (Monday vs Dallas), Hutton will look to extend his hot start this season. He’s 4-0-0 with a .931 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average, showing both he and the team play well when he’s between the pipes.
Recently, Carter Hutton mentioned his ability to let the first forechecker come to him and be part of the breakout. Puck management was sloppy last night in Anaheim, so look for Carter Hutton to make an effort to take some of the pressure of his defensemen on this back to back.