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Sabres at Rangers preview: New year, new lines, new you

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The Sabres have shuffled their lineup in the hopes of keeping their season from falling into the abyss.

NHL: New York Rangers at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #37

Buffalo Sabres (13-15-8) at New York Rangers (26-12-1)

Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY

TV: NBCSN | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation’s Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter

Three Questions

1. How will the Sabres respond to their mid-season crisis and Eichel’s locker room explosion?

After losing back-to-back games to the Boston Bruins that all but took them out of a tight playoff race, Jack Eichel slammed his equipment into his locker, said some bad words, and left without talking to reporters. It was a performance that showed more passion and emotion than his teammates - and Eichel, at times - showed on the ice that afternoon.

Now, after a few days of talking about being better, the Sabres have a chance to go out and prove it against stiff competition in the Rangers.

2. How many power play goals will the Rangers score tonight?

The Rangers have the fourth-best power play in the league, while the Buffalo penalty kill is in a league of it’s own with how awful they’ve been the past month. The Sabres will either need to completely stay out of the penalty box, or pull off a miraculous turnaround in order to keep this game under control.

3. Which of the new lines and pairings will click tonight, and which won’t?

Eichel and Okposo will be playing together tonight, Bailey has earned a promotion to the second line, Girgensons has been shifted to third line center, while Josh Gorges is back with Ristolainen. Injuries have once again forced the Sabres to move multiple pieces around, and against a talented team like the Rangers, there won’t be much time to let things settle in before someone will have to start producing.

Projected BUF Lines

82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 21 Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane - 23 Sam Reinhart - 56 Justin Bailey
48 William Carrier - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 27 Derek Grant - 26 Matt Moulson

Josh Gorges - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian
41 Justin Falk - 6 Cody Franson

Goal: 31 Anders Nilsson