Calgary Flames at Buffalo Sabres
Sabres Projected Lines:
Victor Olofsson – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Jimmy Vesey – Marcus Johansson – Casey Mittelstadt
Jeff Skinner – Johan Larsson – Conor Sheary
Zemgus Girgensons – Rasmus Asplund – Lazar/Dea
Jake McCabe – Zach Bogosian
Brandon Montour – Rasmus Ristolainen
Marco Scandella – Henri Jokiharju
*No morning skate, lines are not confirmed.
Flames Projected Lines:
Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Elias Lindholm
Andrew Mangiapane – Mikael Backlund – Matthew Tkachuk
Michael Frolik – Mark Jankowski – Tobias Rieder
Dillon Dube – Derek Ryan – Milan Lucic
T.J. Brodie – Mark Giordano
Noah Hanifin – Rasmus Andersson
Oliver Kylington – Michael Stone
3 Things To Watch:
New Powerplay looks –
There will be a few assumptions made based off last game in Tampa, but with Dahlin out with an injury we should see Rasmus Ristolainen on the 1st unit. Now, we did see Montour take over for Dahlin on the top unit last game, but that did not go so well. The Sabres who gave up two short handed goals may also decide to place another defender on the point, but for now let’s assume
Eichel – Reinhart – Olofsson
I’ll stay away from producing a similar umbrella formation for the 2nd unit, but I would be shocked if it doesn’t include Montour on the point and as the primary trigger. Vesey/Sheary/Mittelstadt/MoJo should be the forwards who play alongside.
Based on Vogl’s tweet the Sabres practiced not giving up shot handed goals… powerplay forwards took on 2-1 chances against. Hopefully, we see an improved man advantage as it has gone from near the league lead back down to 15th.
Calgary’s Top Line –
November 7th vs the New Jersey Devils was the last time Johnny Hockey found the back of the net and as the Flames season continues to implode some have speculated a trade for the electric young forward. Sean Monahan has three goals in the month of November, but only one at 5v5 which came on November 1st vs the Blue Jackets. Lindholm is leading this seemingly star-studded line in 5v5 goals in the month of November with a staggering 2 and one of them came while he was playing with a different unit. Needless to say we have two teams who have had a rough month of hockey and are looking for a rebound. The Flames have their hands full off the ice, but their top unit taking an early holiday from scoring is no help.
Linus Ullmark Emerging as the Starter? –
After a 43 save effort in Sunrise, Florida Ullmark returns to Buffalo starting in net in what feels like a must win game even though it’s so early in the season. Currently with a very sound .915 Sv% the backup net minder has a chance to have another statement game. As I said in my pre-season article there is a chance we see an emergence from Ullmark based off the aging curve of goalies and his current place in the system. If he gets the win tonight and in one of his two starts against Toronto on the upcoming home-at-home back-to-back we could see what happened in St. Louis last season when Binnington stole the starting job. This isn’t to see Hutton has been horrific, but as of late he has been replacement level at best and this cannot stand if we want to get back in the playoff picture.
Calgary Player to Watch: Rasmus Andersson
The newly 23-year-old defenseman has solidified his role in the top 4 and first PK unit for the Flames. He isn’t the flashiest player in the world, but he does so many things well. In the Flames previous matchup Andersson-Hanifin saw the majority of their minutes’ vs Malkin-Guentzel-Rust which leads me to believe they will also be using this unit against the Eichel line tonight. Andersson has also emerged as an early candidate to be an analytics darling with his Corsi numbers, but it’s a bit early to tell yet. In the matchup against the Pens he had 5 shot attempts and 4 shot assists which is thanks to @ToddCordell’s work. Either way the Flames woos have not stemmed from the play of their defense and their shut down pair has been formidable…. Also his name is Rasmus… what’s not to like?
Buffalo Player to Watch: Brandon Montour
With the lose of the Sabres top point producing defender I would expect to see a few more minutes for a player who when at forward the other night in Florida produced nearly a 75% shot share when on the ice. The way Montour plays is what I’m most thankful for this holiday season as he is consistently producing offensive and moving the puck towards the net. There are flashes of brilliance with the way he can move the puck and skate into the offensive zone coupled with a less than desirable xGA60 in a small sample size this season. Nevertheless he should see more time overall and powerplay run which he rightfully deserves.