Time: 7:00 Eastern Time
Location: Keybank Center
Broadcast / Streaming: SUNS, MSGB
Opponent SBNation Site: Die By The Blade
The SBNation affiliate site for the Buffalo Sabres, Die By The Blade, released a podcast recently titled ‘Next Stage of Grief’. It’s safe to say the Buffalo faithful have just about had it with the franchise. With Jake Eichel out 4-6 weeks with a high-ankle sprain, and the team compiling just 16-30-10 record, it seems the Sabres again have a lost season. They sit second to last in goals for this year, and with Eichel out that’s only going to get worse. To make matters further disastrous, the Sabres have a a home-and-home with the surging Pittsburgh Penguins the same week.
Buffalo does get the benefit of playing a worn-out Bolts team on the road, but it’s hard to see a Sabres team with any drive with all things considered. After a rough January stretch, the Lightning are 7-2 in their last nine games, a nice stat in isolation, but increasing reliance on Andrei Vasilevskiy plague the Bolts’ chances at continued success. Will the Bolts prove the rumors right and grab Ryan McDonough at the deadline and officially be renamed to the Tampa Bay Lightning Rangers? [Ugh. - Acha] Only time will tell.
The Buffalo Sabres are a bad hockey team. And without Jack Eichel, they are even worse. Their shot generation is atrocious. Like many bad teams before them, they seem to be trying to slow the pace in the hopes of losing 2-1 instead of 5-2. That was their strategy earlier this year against the Lightning and will likely be the strategy again.
The Bolts are at the other end of the spectrum in terms of results this year but they have their own problems to fix. The team that was leading the league in shot suppression has disappeared. In its place is a team that bleeds shots constantly.
If the Lightning are looking for an opportunity to try to recover form, this is a good chance to do it. The Sabres present as little of a threat as any NHL team. That doesn’t guarantee a win but it does mean this is a good game to focus on their own strategy and executing a game plan without too much concern about what the opposition is doing in response. Hopefully, they take advantage of that and showcase what made them so dominant early in the year.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Yanni Gourde - Steven Stamkos - Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Adam Erne - Vladislav Namestnikov - Cory Conacher
Chris Kunitz - Matthew Peca - Ryan Callahan
Victor Hedman — Anton Stralman
Mikhail Sergachev — Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn — Andrej Sustr
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan O’Reilly - Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane - Evan Rodrigues - Kyle Okposo
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Pominville
Scott Wilson - Jacob Josefson - Nick Baptiste
Marco Scandella - Casey Nelson
Nathan Beaulieu - Rasmus Ristolainen
Victor Antipin - Justin Falk