Washington Capitals at Buffalo Sabres Game Preview 1/15/21

Expected Lines: 

Buffalo Sabres 

Hall – Eichel – Thompson 

Olofsson – *Staal – Reinhart 

Rieder – Eakin – Cozens 

Skinner – Lazar – Sheahan

 

McCabe – Ristolainen 

Dahlin – Montour

Miller – Jokiharju

Ullmark

Washington Capitals 

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Oshie

Vrana – Kuznetsov – Wilson

Panik – Eller – Sheary

Hagelin – Dowd – Hathaway 

Orlov – Carlson

Dillon – Schultz

Chara – Jenson

Samsanov/Vanacek

News and Notes:

Staal a game-time decision

New acquisition Eric Staal left the game early yesterday after a hit to the head from Capitals forward, Nic Dowd. While the hit certainly looked bad, Dowd was only accessed a 2-minute minor penalty. Ralph Krueger noted after the game that he was surprised it wasn’t a major. 

It was announced today that Dowd would not be subject to any further review or discipline for the hit. Watching the play, it’s hard to identify what NHL Player Safety is missing here, but the Sabres are forced to move-on regardless. 

Krueger announced Friday morning that Staal’s status will be a game-time decision and that if he can’t go, Riley Sheahan will slide into the 2C position. 

Ullmark expected to make first start

While he wouldn’t confirm, Krueger all but revealed that Linus Ullmark will be making his season debut tonight between the pipes. While Ullmark comes off a season where he took the reins as Sabres starter, he’ll likely split the action with Hutton given the condensed schedule this season. Krueger noted this morning that in most back-to-back situations, the goalies will split the games. 

Can Sabres ramp up the pace? 

While they showed some life as the game progressed, the Sabres looked gassed for the majority of yesterday’s game. It’ll be crucial to see whether or not the Sabres can ramp up their game speed as they appeared unable to keep up with Washington at times of the game last night. With a bit of first game rust shaken off, Head Coach Ralph Krueger expects that to be the case, “We’re expecting a much better game tonight and one of the reasons is what happened in the second half of the game when we got our legs under us and simplified things.” 

Prediction: 

The Sabres bounce back in this one and grab their first win of the season. Linus Ullmark looks considerably more comfortable than Carter Hutton last night as he secures the victory. Jack Eichel scores his first goal of the year on his way to a 3-point night, including another goal from Taylor Hall. 4-1 Sabres Victory. 

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