Buffalo Sabres (23-23-10) at Ottawa Senators (29-18-6)
Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | Canadian Tire Centre | Ottawa, ON
TV: MSG, RDS, TSN5 | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Senators Blog: Silver Seven
1. Will Buffalo "stick to the system" more tonight, and will it make a difference?
Much has been said over the past two days about the inconsistency that’s plagued the Sabres all season long, and one of the themes of those conversations has been sticking to the system Dan Bylsma and staff have implemented.
Robin Lehner called it "disrespectful" the way the team sometimes ignores game plans, and both he and captain Brian Gionta talked about how the team has to accept that they’re more of a "grinding" team, though that doesn’t need to mean slow and boring, according to Gionta.
"Playing with pace, paying with speed, is just as much about grinding. It's making the right reads, it's making the right decisions with the puck. Everyone thinks, 'Oh, playing a grinding game is a boring game,' but it's making the right read and getting the pucks behind their D, wearing the team down."
If we see a difference in the team’s approach tonight, it will most likely be with them getting the puck behind the Ottawa defense, forechecking hard, and trying to work through the neutral zone with more speed and purpose. We’ll see if it makes any kind of difference in the way the game plays out.
2. Can Robin Lehner continue to dominate the Senators?
Since being traded from Ottawa to Buffalo, Lehner has feasted on his old team to the tune of a .961 save percentage and a 1.18 goals-against in seven appearances. Buffalo could use a win to calm things down in the locker room, and another strong performance in net from the man who called out his teammates this week would certainly help.
3. Which player featured on the Sabres Valentines Day cards will have the biggest impact on tonight’s game?
This question is just as cheesy as the puns on this year’s Sabres Valentines (check them out here) but I love them all the same. The options are Eichel, O’Rielly, Reinhart, Okposo, Foligno, and Ol’ Crazy Eyes Lehner. Give us your predictions in the comments.
Of note from the morning skate: Evander Kane was not in attendance, and it looks like Zach Bogosian will be returning to the lineup tonight.
Projected Buffalo Lines
56 Justin Bailey - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
26 Matt Moulson - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
82 Marcus Foligno - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 27 Derek Grant - 63 Tyler Ennis
29 Jake McCabe - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
4 Josh Gorges - 77 Dmitry Kulikov
41 Justin Falk - 47 Zach Bogosian
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner