Buffalo Sabres (11-11-6) vs. New York Islanders (11-13-5)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
TV: MSG, MSG+ | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
1. Will the Sabres continue to give their lines even playing time tonight like they did against LA?
The Sabres had one of their most balanced games on Tuesday in terms of ice time, thanks to both a healthier lineup and a lack of any special teams time against the Kings. That allowed workhorses like Ristolainen and O’Reilly to have what for them must have been an easy night, skating just over 22 and 17 minutes, respectively.
Dan Bylsma has also taken to rotating different players onto the Eichel line during games, with Moulson and Kane being the two most-used. A more balanced attack will greatly help the Sabres, who have five games in the next eight days including two back-to-backs, stay fresh through all 60 minutes.
2. How will Kyle Okposo look against his old mates?
Tonight will be Okposo’s first game facing the Islanders since leaving orange behind for gold. KO is on a nice hot streak right now, scoring 11 points in his last ten games, and one would figure he’ll have a little extra jump in his step coming out of the gate tonight.
3. Can the Sabres take advantage of NY’s poor special teams?
The Islanders have been a disappointment so far this year, and one of the reasons for their fall can be traced back to special teams. They have the worst power play in the NHL by a full percentage point, scoring on only 12.3 percent of their man advantages. Their PK isn’t much better, coming in at 79.0%, good for 24th in the league.
Of course, that’s a better PK ranking than the Sabres, who are currently 29th in the NHL on the kill. Facing the league’s worst power play would be a good chance to start to turn things around for Buffalo.
Projected BUF Lines
48 William Carrier - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 23 Sam Reinhart
26 Matt Moulson - 15 Jack Eichel - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 22 Johan Larsson - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 9 Evander Kane
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 6 Cody Franson
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner