Buffalo Sabres vs Washington Capitals Game Preview 2/18/2021

Expected Lines:

Sabres

Skinner-Eichel-Olofsson

Hall-Staal-Reinhart

Rieder-Eakin-Okposo

Lazar/Cozens*-Sheahan-Thompson

Dahlin-Miller

McCabe-Montour*

Irwin-Jokiharju

Ullmark

Hutton

**= game-time decisions

Capitals

Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie

Vrana-Backstrom-Wilson

Sheary-Eller-Panik

Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway

Sprong

Dillon-Carlson

Chara-Schultz

Orlov-Jensen

Vanecek

Anderson

News and Notes:

The defence is getting healthy, but Ristolainen will miss more time

McCabe played in the last game against the Islanders, Montour is skating with the team again so while the Sabres are getting healthier, they will be missing at least one key piece for their upcoming road trip.

Ristolainen is off the COVID protocol list, but according to coach Krueger he isn’t ready for game action and won’t be for the next little while.

Hopefully everyone recovers soon and the Sabres get their blueline back to full strength because that has been there biggest positive so far this season.

When will the scoring arrive?

It’s a tale as old as time, but the Sabres need to find a way to get on the scoresheet at 5v5.

So far this season, the Sabres have the 2nd fewest xG at 5v5 this season (19.72) and sit at 14th in league in xGF%.

Buffalo has only mustered only 15 5v5 goals for, that’s last in the entire NHL. 15 5v5 goals for in 12 games… that 1.25 5v5 goals for/game.

The Sabres leading scorers are:

  • Victor Olofsson (5 goals) (0 at 5v5)
  • Eric Staal (3 goals) (2 at 5v5)
  • Curtis Lazar (3 goals) (3 at 5v5)
  • Tobias Reider (3 goals) (3 at 5v5)
  • Sam Reinhart (3 goals) (1 at 5v5)

Taylor Hall, Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson have combined for one goal at 5v5… it has gotten to a point where the underlying numbers don’t matter anymore. If these players do not produce at 5v5 the Sabres will go nowhere this season.

Back to a normal opponent

The Sabres have already played the Capitals 4 times out of 12 games this season, they’ve been accustomed to playing this opponent and there shouldn’t be any hesitation in attacking the game right from the opening puck drop.

Buffalo will also not have to worry about playing against a trap team, the Islanders get a lead and clog the middle keeping everything to the outside.

Washington doesn’t play that style, and should be susceptible to high danger chances against. The Capitals are tied for the 6th most 5v5 goals against in the league, if there ever was a night for the Sabres to generate some offense, this could be the night.

Prediction

Looking for the Sabres to offense to break through in what should be a high-event game. 5-4 Buffalo.

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