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Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres: Two teams on two very different tracks

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Title contender vs. bottom dweller. What can we expect out of this game, anyway?

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Buffalo Sabres: GAME #24

Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time

Location: KeyBank Center, Buffalo

Broadcast/Streaming: SUN

Opponent SBNation Site: Die By The Blade

Preview:

Its no surprise that Jack Eichel and company likely figured they would be at a different point in the franchise’s progress a few years ago. The rebuild worked until it didn’t, and now the Sabres are back at the start. All is not lost of course, as Eichel appears to be a constant on a Buffalo team. The franchise face continues to produce, but where will they go from here?

With the Tampa Bay Lightning at the top and the Sabres at the bottom, this game definitely features two opposing season story lines. At 6-14-4, the Sabres sit dead last in offense and their goals against isn’t much better. (In general the Atlantic Division has been a bit of a mess this season, with Montreal unexpectedly bad.)

The Lightning are sitting on their first two-game losing streak of the season and will look to right the temporary skid against Buffalo. Tonight’s game marks the first half of a back-to-back for the Bolts. Tomorrow night’s game in Boston will be the end of the four game road stretch.

Comparison Chart

@loserpoints’ note:

The Sabres have struggled this year and that’s evident in their numbers. Their offense has been particularly bad all season, but their defense has been respectable and even good in the last ten games. That hasn’t translated to results yet because they’ve been let down by goaltending. Tonight will certainly be a test for their defense and goaltending since the Lightning have plenty of offensive talent.

The Bolts have an edge in just about every area including special teams. Having lost two games in a row and facing Boston tomorrow night, the team will likely feel that this is the kind of game they need to win. If they don’t, they could easily find themselves in a four-game losing streak. Fortunately for them, they have a clear advantage in talent that should be enough to earn two points.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Forward Lines:

Vladislav Namestnikov — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Yanni Gourde

Alex Killorn — Tyler Johnson — ?

Chris KunitzJ.T. BrownRyan Callahan

Defense Pairings:

Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman

Mikhail Sergachev — Andrej Sustr

Braydon Coburn — Dan Girardi

Slater Koekkoek

Fine, we have no idea what the D-pairings are gonna be.

Goaltenders:

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Peter Budaj

Buffalo Sabres

Forward Lines

Evander Kane - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan O’Reilly - Kyle Okposo

Jordan Nolan - Larsson - Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson - Kyle Criscuolo - Zemgus Girgensons

Defense Pairings

Marco Scandella - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Victor Antipin

Nathan Beaulieu - Justin Falk

Josh Gorges - Zach Bogosian

Matt Tennyson

Goaltenders

Robin Lehner

Chad Johnson