The Buffalo Sabres have a chance to gain some much needed momentum with a win over the Anaheim Ducks before they head on the road for a three game West Coast road trip. The Ducks are in the seventh game of a eight game road trip that they finish against the New York Rangers on Monday. The big change for the Sabres lineup is the season debut of Corey Tropp. Tropp is coming off the broken jaw he suffered in a preseason fight with Jamie Devane.
With any season debut, Tropp is looking forward to hitting the ice and making a difference for this team. "We've been preaching hard work here and we've got to bring it into this game from the opening of the puck drop and just work and don't be afraid to make mistakes."
The lines have been shuffled a bit with the introduction of Tropp into the lineup. Here is the projected lineup for tonight's game:
Moulson - Hodgson - Ennis
Ott - Foligno - Tropp
Girgensons - Larsson - Stafford
Flynn - McCormick - Leino
Ehrhoff - Pysyk
Tallinder - Myers
McBain - Ristolainen
*Note: these are built off of the lines from Friday's practice as Saturday's morning skate was optional.
Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov will be the healthy scratches for tonight.
Three Things We're Wondering About Tonight
1.) How will Tropp play in his debut?
The Sabres can't be any worse off than what they have been in the previous 15 games so as long as Tropp is a functioning player, he can't look all that bad in his debut. Considering that he is starting with Ott and Foligno, he's getting the chance to succeed early.
2.) Can the Sabres take advantage of Anaheim's poor special teams?
The Sabres are converting on the power play at 10.9% and have a penalty kill of 82%. The Ducks are one of the few teams that have a worse power play penalty kill than the Sabres. Anaheim has a power play percentage of 7.3% and a penalty kill of 74.5%. Their penalty kill percentage drops to 63.3% on the road so if the Sabres can take advantage with their special teams, it should make up the difference between the two teams at even strength.
3.) Can the Sabres build momentum before they head on the road?
The crowd at the First Niagara Center is one that has had their daggers at the ready since the start of the season. Getting the first win at home could possibly build back some momentum before they head on the road and at the very least, put some joy back into playing for this team.