Buffalo Sabres (7-9-5) at Ottawa Senators (14-7-1)
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | Canadian Tire Centre | Ottawa, Ont.
TV: MSG-B, TSN5, RDS2 | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Senators Blog: Silver Seven
1. How does Eichel look in his return?
This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for - Jack is back and with him comes a huge influx of offensive potency. Not only because Eichel is talented in his own right, but because his return helps balance the Sabres scoring depth quite nicely.
Eichel says that he’s 100%, but ankle injuries can be tricky things. How will he look charging after a loose puck or battling in the corner? Will he be able to make it thought the game without pain or re-aggrivating the injury? Will he be able to put in a full, 20-minute effort or will his leash get shorter as the game wears on?
2. How will Eichel’s return affect the other reshuffled lines?
While Eichel’s line alongside Reinhart and Kane is the same as yesterday, the big change today is William Carrier getting a chance to play up with the top line of O’Reilly and Okposo. Matt Moulson slides down to the fourth line, giving the Sabres bottom six a bit more punch. This team needs scoring in the worst way, and it can’t be all up to Jack to turn that around.
3. Will either team take a two-goal lead?
The Sabres and Senators have played 15 one-goal games in their last 20 contests, and despite Ottawa’s sterling record, they somehow have a goal differential of +0. Neither team is an offensive powerhouse (Ottawa is 28th in the NHL in goals for, Buffalo 30th) so if either team can open up a two-goal lead it might mean the end of the game right there.
Projected BUF Lines
48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 27 Derek Grant - 28 Zemgus Girgensons
4 Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner