Buffalo Sabres vs Pittsburgh Penguins Game Preview 3/13/21

Expected Lines

Sabres

Hall-Sheahan-Reinhart

Olofsson-Staal-Rieder

Skinner-Lazar-Mittelstadt

Thompson-Eakin-Okposo

Dahlin-Miller

Bryson-Montour

Davidson-Ristolainen

Hutton

Penguins

Guentzel-Crosby-Rust

Rodrigues-Malkin-Kapanen

Aston-Reese-Blueger-Tanev

Sceviour-Jankowski-Angello

Dumoulin-Letang

Matheson-Ceci

Pettersson-Marino

Jarry

Tale of the Tape

Record: Pittsburgh (16-9-1) vs Buffalo (6-15-4)

xGF%: Pittsburgh (48.75%) vs Buffalo (47.58%)

5v5 Goals: Pittsburgh (57) vs Buffalo (34)

Leading Scorer: Crosby (25 points) vs Reinhart (19 points)

Injury Updates…Not good news

At their morning availability the Sabres and coach Ralph Krueger announced that Dylan Cozens would miss tonight’s game and is considered day-to-day but the bigger news was Jack Eichel being out for “the foreseeable future.”

Others have reported that Eichel’s injury should have him out around eight weeks, which would be just before the Sabres season finale.

It’s all but likely that Eichel has played his last game this season and will begin rehabbing and preparing for a (hopefully much better) 2021-22 season.

Rochester Quarantine limits the Sabres roster changes

While the Sabres are out two of their top center options, it’s hard to imagine any immediate reinforcements from the minors because the Amerks are going through some Covid protocols right now and their players aren’t available to the Sabres.

This isn’t ideal for the team because with Eichel out and the season all but flushed, it would be a perfect time to give a guy like Arttu Ruotsalainen or other young centers a shot at the NHL to see if they’re ready to be apart of this team going forward.

Goaltending woes are evident

Carter Hutton getting the start tonight for the Sabres, and while the organization has said that goaltending isn’t an issue there’s no more arguing against the fact that Ullmark is the only capable NHL goalie on the roster.

Hutton’s season numbers aren’t anything to look at, he’s got a .883% save % and a 3.40 GAA. His underlying numbers are even worse, he sports a .879% 5v5 save % and a .761 HDSV%… and Johansson hasn’t been any better.

With their two of their top players out the Sabres are going to need more steady performances in net and given their two options right now… it seems like it is a lot to ask right now.

Prediction

The Sabres are at a point where they’ve lost nine in a row and the end doesn’t really seem to be in sight. Until they can actually break this streak, it seems like a foolish move to predict them to win (especially given the injuries to Eichel and Cozens).

4-1 Penguins

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