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Sabres vs. Rangers preview: The sky is falling, unless it isn’t

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Buffalo will try to come back strong after a demoralizing loss with a better effort against the Rangers.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Game #50

Buffalo Sabres (20-20-9) vs. New York Rangers (31-18-1)

Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: NBCSN, TVAS, SNO | Radio: WGR 550 | Stream: NBCSports.com

SB Nation’s Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter

Three Questions

1. Can the Sabres defense rally after a truly awful performance against the Canadiens?

If you watched Buffalo’s first game after the break, I hope Terry Pegula personally sent you a letter of apology, because boy was it rough. The pairing of Zach Bogosian and Cody Franson had a particularly horrendous outing, combining for a -8 on the night.

The Sabres can’t afford another performance like that against the second highest-scoring team in the NHL if they want a chance to win tonight. Was Tuesday just a case of the All-Star break blues? Or has the team’s biggest weakness finally cracked wide open?

2. What’s up with that fourth line?

The Great Tyler Ennis Experiment continues to not work, and Ennis will be spending his night on the fourth line, where his center will be...Nic Deslauriers, who is in for Cal O’Reilly (COR was placed on waivers earlier today, headed back to Rochester.) The Sabres have gotten as much production from me this season as they’ve gotten from their fourth line, but maybe Ennis, D-Lo, and Carrier cannonballing around the ice will spark something tonight.

3. After the game tonight, how will Sabres fans overreact?

If win: "Hey, you know, they’re only seven points behind Boston, and they’ve got five games in hand. With the team scoring so much more since Eichel came back, and good goaltending, if they can just string together four or five in a row we’ll be right in this thing, baby! Playoffs here we come!"

If lose: "FIRE BYLSMA TRADE EVERYBODY GMTM SUCKS LEHNER SUCKS PEGULA SUCKS TAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNKKKKKKKKK"

Projected Buffalo Lines

26 Matt Moulson - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart
Evander Kane - 28 Zemgus Girgensons - 12 Brian Gionta
48 William Carrier - 44 Nic Deslauriers - 63 Tyler Ennis

77 Dmitry Kulikov - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
47 Zach Bogosian - 6 Cody Franson
41 Justin Falk - 38 Taylor Fedun

Goal: 40 Robin Lehner