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Sabres at Flames preview: Sabres look to snap west coast funk

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The Flames are on a seven game home winning streak, but the Sabres are desperate for their first points on their three game road trip.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Game #29

Buffalo Sabres (11-14-3) at
Calgary Flames (11-14-2)

Puck Drop: 9:00 pm EST | Scotiabank Saddledome | Calgary, AB
TV: MSG, SN360 | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Flames Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline

Three Questions

1. What will the score be at the end of the first period?

Calgary has the worst goal differential in the league, and leads the NHL in goals against. However, they're not awful in the first period, scoring 20 goals and only giving up 24 - it's the second and third period where they get killed on the scoreboard. The first period has been the Sabres worst this season by far, so if Buffalo can keep thing close or even end the first with a lead (gasp!) they should be in good shape.

2. Can the Sabres take advantage of Calgary's terrible special teams?

The Flames are the worst team in the league on both the power play and penalty kill by a country mile. While Buffalo's penalty kill still needs work, their power play is ranked 7th in the NHL at 21.3%. If the Flames find themselves in the box too often, they should find themselves down on the scoreboard as well.

3. This is our first real look at the battle of the Sams. How will it play out?

Much was made over the past year about the Sabres taking Sam Reinhart #2 overall in 2014 instead of Sam Bennett. The flames (sorry) of that argument were fanned when Bennett was called up for Calgary's playoff run and looked pretty good, while Reinhart needed another year of seasoning and growing in juniors. So far this year, Bennett has five goals and 13 points, while Reinhart is second on the Sabres with eight goals and has 11 points. Both players are getting top-six minutes, so it should be fun to watch these two battle tonight and compete over the next few years.

Projected BUF lines

McGinn - R. O'Reilly - Reinhart
Kane - Eichel - Gionta
Moulson - Girgensons - Larsson
Deslauriers - Legwand/C. O'Reilly - Foligno

Gorges - Ristolainen
Colaiacovo - Bogosian
McCabe/Weber - Franson

Goal: Chad Johnson

Projected CGY lines

Gaudreau - Monahan - Jones
Bennett - Granlund - Hudler
Raymond - Backlund - Frolik
Ferland - Stajan - Colborne

Giordano - Brodie
Wideman - Hamilton
Smid - Engelland

Goal: Karri Ramo

And as a bonus, enjoy this terrible/amazing ugly sweater video the Flames put out a few days ago.