Buffalo Sabres (9-9-5) vs. Boston Bruins (13-10-1)
Puck drop: 1:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
TV: MSG-B, NESN, NHL.TV | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Bruins Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder
1. How will Brendan Guhle look in his first full NHL game?
The 19-year-old defenseman has been turning heads in the WHL this season with some astounding goals for first the Prince Albert Raiders and then the Prince George Cougars. In his NHL debut though, he's going to get asked to do some defense work against the Bruins.
The kid is built like a tank and can take punishment while dishing it out in equal measures. He has shown poise with the puck but will get challenged to show that he is ready for the pace difference between the juniors and the big show.
2. Can the Sabres maintain their goalscoring rate?
With the return of Jack Eichel, the Sabres goalscoring woes have disappeared in the last two games as they've pumped in nine goals, after managing a paltry 39 in 21 games without him. Buffalo was blanked 4-0 in Boston earlier this season, and will have a challenge trying to win this game without scoring at least three or four of their own today.
3. Is the game going to be won or lost on special teams?
Having Eichel back has allowed Dan Bylsma to field his power play dream team of Reinhart-ROR-Ox-Eichel-Risto, which has been producing at a clip of 4 goals in 7 power play attempts. A similar or better performance will be required against the B's who are the tenth most penalized team in the League, but also the fifth-ranked penalty kill unit.
On the opposite end, the Sabres unnaturally high save percentage on the kill has come full circle, with Buffalo shipping 4 goals on 6 times short-handed. For the season, the Sabres are 29th in the League killing penalties, while Boston are 22nd with the extra skater. Playing smart, penalty-free hockey will be important in today's matinee fixture.
Projected BUF Lines
26 Matt Moulson - 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
48 William Carrier - 27 Derek Grant - 28 Zemgus Girgensons
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
45 Brendan Guhle - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner