Photo courtesy of NHL.com
Sabres Projected Lines:
Victor Olofsson – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner – Marcus Johansson – Evan Rodrigues
Jimmy Vesey – Casey Mittelstadt – Conor Sheary
Zemgus Girgensons – Johan Larsson – Kyle Okposo
Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen
Brandon Montour – Colin Miller
Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju
Lightning Projected Lines:
Tyler Johnson – Steven Stamkos – Nikita Kucherov
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Alexander Volkov
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Mathieu Joseph
Patrick Maroon – Cedric Paquette – Yanni Gourde
Victor Hedman – Kevin Shattinkirk
Ryan McDonagh – Erik Cernak
Luke Schenn – Mikhail Segachev
Both teams did not have a morning skate so we’ll know more in warmups. I’m assuming the teams will play the backup goalie from yesterday’s game.
3 Things to Watch
Need a strong first period
In the past seven games, the Sabres have been outscored 13-2 in the first period. They’ve done their best fighting back into games, but going down 2-0 after the first period is not a recipe for success. Tampa will be ready to go after a good showing, Buffalo needs to be ready from the moment the puck drops.
The last thing I want to see is Carter Hutton getting relied upon to keep the game within reach in the first period. Buffalo needs to play on their toes and get the jump on Tampa. When the Lightning are surging their way back with waves of offense, weather the storm and continue to attack, don’t just throw the puck away and prepare to defend again.
More pucks and bodies to the net
Give Tampa credit, I thought they played a very complete game yesterday. That being said, the Sabres didn’t necessarily help themselves. The Sabres didn’t record more than nine shots in a period yesterday (nine in the 1st, five in the 2nd and eight in the 3rd).
Add only 22 shots on top of lacking a net front presence once those shots were taken, that’s where I’ll be looking for improvement today. I’m not saying it was completely lacking yesterday, but certain lines (the 4th line stood out) performed better than others at this particular area of the game.
Empty the tank
The Sabres don’t play again until Thursday. Legs might get heavy as this is the second game they are playing in about 20 hours, but the Sabres need to put in a full 60 minutes of grinding to come away with the W.
Like I said, Tampa played a complete game yesterday and they will try to replicate it. If they can establish more puck possession and high danger scoring changes against the Lightning, things will be on the right track coming home from Sweden.