Hall – Cozens – Reinhart
Olofsson – Dea – Sheahan
Skinner – Lazar – Mittelstadt
Fogarty – Eakin – Okposo
Bryson – Ristolainen
Dahlin – Jokiharju
Montour – Miller
Frederic – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
Bjork – Coyle – Senyshyn
McKegg – Studnicka – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Zboril – Clifton
Tinordi – Kampfer
** Brad Marchand has been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list and will not play
Tale of the Tape
Record: Buffalo (6-22-4; 8th division/31st league) vs. Boston (16-8-5; 4th division/13th league)
5v5 Goals For %: Buffalo (34.2%; 31st) vs. Boston (48.9%; 16th)
5v5 xGoals For %: Buffalo (46.0%; 28th) vs. Boston (49.8%; 16th)
PP Goals For/60: Buffalo (8.27; 12th) vs. Boston (8.36; 10th)
PK Goals Against/60: Buffalo (7.91; 17th) vs. Boston (3.78; 1st)
Beware the Ides of March
The Buffalo Sabres have not won a regulation game in March since a 7-4 win over the Nashville Predators in March 31, 2018. Yes, I know that statistic sounds made up, but it’s true. The Sabres have a 3-27-3 record in March over the past three seasons. All three of those wins came in either overtime or the shootout.
This is a streak that the Sabres hope to break this season, but that is looking pretty unlikely as they only have 3 games to do so and are currently riding a 16-game losing streak. Remember the Lindy Ruff era? The 2010-11 Sabres went on a 13-3-3 run in March/April to clinch a playoff spot and Ruff was criticized for not winning until late in the season. Oh, what I would do to go back to those days.
In case you were curious, this was the Sabres’ lineup for their last win in regulation in March:
Hottest penalty kill vs. coldest power play
The Buffalo Sabres have not scored a power play goal in their last 15 games. Their last power play goal came on their February 25th game against the New Jersey Devils via Sam Reinhart. Since then, the power play that was once one of the premier units in the league has quietly become one of the worst units in the league.
I think it is pretty clear how important Jack Eichel is to the Sabres power play unit. Sure, Victor Olofsson has an elite shot, but he is many times more dangerous when a player like Eichel draws the eyes of the PKers and beats them with his deceptive and accurate pass-making abilities. There is nobody more important to the Sabres’ power play than Jack Eichel and they have really struggled since he has been sidelined with an injury.
There is probably not a worse team to face with a cold power play than the Boston Bruins. They are an elite penalty killing team, the best in the league by many metrics. The Bruins only give up 3.7 goals on the penalty kill per 60 minutes in a league where only three teams give up 5 goals or less per 60 on the penalty kill. Simply put, their PK is in a league of its own.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet that the Sabres power play will not break their scoreless streak this afternoon.
After suffering an injury against the Devils exactly a month ago, Linus Ullmark returns to the crease this afternoon.
Ryan Johnson, D, University of Minnesota
I do not know how watchable this Sabres game will be, but they do have a prospect playing in the 1st Round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament tonight. Ryan Johnson and the Minnesota Golden Gophers will take on the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks at 10 PM ET on ESPNU. I would recommend watching as there is nothing quite like college hockey in March.
Boston 4, Buffalo 2
The Boston Bruins are just point blank a better hockey team than the Buffalo Sabres. It will take nothing short of a miracle for the Sabres to pull out a W against this team.