Sabres Projected Lines:
Jimmy Vesey – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Jeff Skinner – Evan Rodrigues – Conor Sheary
Zemgus Girgensons – Johan Larsson – Curtis Lazar
Victor Olofsson – Rasmus Asplund – Casey Mittelstadt
Jake McCabe – Rasmus Ristolainen
Colin Miller – Brandon Montour
Rasmus Dahlin – Zach Bogosian
Panthers Projected Lines:
Jonathan Huberdeau – Aleksander Barkov – Evgenii Dadonov
Brian Boyle – Vincent Trocheck – Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano – Denis Malgin – Mike Hoffman
Dominic Toninato – Noel Acciari – Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle – Aaron Ekblad
Mark Pysyk – Anton Stralman
Michael Matheson – Josh Brown
3 Things To Watch:
Jumping On Montembeault Early And Often
While the Panthers currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 12-6-5, it certainly hasn’t been on the heels of their goaltending. While Sam Montembeault has marginally better stats than starter Sergei Bobrovsky, there isn’t much of a difference. Florida has been finding a way to win with Montembeault between the pipes, as all three of his wins this season have came in the shootout. It doesn’t take a genius to tell that if Buffalo wants any chance of leaving South Florida with a win today, they have to get pucks by Montembeault early and often.
Find A Way To Stop The Panthers Secondary Scoring
The Panthers have had success with their secondary scoring, as guys like Brett Connolly, Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov are all hovering around a point per game this season. Of course, keeping Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau in check is a must. However, the Sabres mustn’t let the aforementioned cast have a field day. The Panthers rank second in the NHL in Goals per game (3.61), and have scored four goals in six of their last nine games. Carter Hutton and co. sure will have their hands full this evening in Sunrise, FL.
Get The Special Teams Rolling
In Thursday’s game versus the Bruins, Buffalo scored their first powerplay goal since October 28th, breaking a ten-game goose egg with the man advantage. Equally as shocking, the Sabres have surrendered a shorthanded goal in SEVEN straight games. Not many teams in the NHL have success with a stifled powerplay and a porous penalty kill, meaning Buffalo needs to get back on track starting this evening. The arrival of Rasmus Ristolainen as a net-front presence on the powerplay versus Boston was a welcomed change that proved successful, as he scored his first goal in eight months. Here’s hoping Sabres coach Ralph Krueger continues with that tactic tonight.
Player To Watch: Florida
Keep an eye on Mike Hoffman this evening. He’s scored a goal in two of his last four games, and tallied at least a point in six of his last seven. He’s also tied for the team lead in powerplay goals with 5, and to top it off, today is his birthday. Look for his teammates to get him the puck all night long, especially if the Sabres get into penalty trouble. He could be poised for a big night if the Sabres lack discipline in the defensive zone.
Player To Watch: Buffalo
It feels as if Jack Eichel is the obvious choice for the Sabres tonight. He’s been on fire recently, riding a four-game point streak into tonight (5G, 2A). If the Sabres can draw some penalties tonight, look for him to have a big night on the powerplay, as it’s due time for an offensive breakout.
Optimism reigns supreme here. The Sabres end their recent struggles, cure their special teams ailments, and pull out a 4-2 win over a tired Florida Panthers team .