Buffalo Sabres (22-21-10) vs. Anaheim Ducks (28-17-10)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
TV: MSG, Prime | Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation’s Ducks Blog: Anaheim Calling
1. Will Evander Kane play?
Kane took part in the morning skate but did not participate in line rushes. Should he not be able to go, Evan Rodrigues has been recalled from the Amerks to take his place.
Zemgus Girgensons definitely won’t play, nursing what Bylsma called "residual hits" over the past few games. Derek Grant will take his spot in the lineup.
2. How much longer will Lehner’s 5-on-5 shutout streak last?
Just getting the classic "point out the streak" jinx out of the way early. Lehner’s clean sheet is currently at 198:42, and he’s stopped 91 shots during that stretch. With a .930 save percentage this calendar year, he’s given the Sabres a very nice stretch of play to kick off 2017.
And there’s some incredible numbers that help sell the threat of a shutout - according to the Game Notes, the Sabres have shut out the Ducks seven times in 32 meetings, averaging a shutout every 4.57 games. The next closes team in that category is Columbus, who has been shut out by Buffalo once every 7.37 games. The Sabres did get a shutout of Anaheim last year, so they’re not necessarily due, but it’s a cool stat nonetheless.
3. Can the Sabres hold their own on faceoffs?
Anaheim is the #1 faceoff team in the NHL, and it’s not really close - they’re over a full percentage point better than the second place team, winning 54.9% of their draws. They’re power by Ryan Kesler, who sits at 57.9%, and Antoine Vermette, who is winning an incredible 63.3% of his draws.
The Sabres success on the power play is mostly driven by Ryan O’Reilly, who is right there with Kesler at 57.5%, but aside from ROR, the Sabres don’t have anyone above 50%. (And Eichel, I know young guys struggle with faceoffs, but 41.2%? Come on, dude.)
Projected Buffalo Lines
23 Sam Reinhart - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
82 Marcus Foligno - 15 Jack Eichel - 63 Tyler Ennis
56 Justin Bailey - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 12 Brian Gionta
44 Nic Deslauriers - 27 Derek Grant - 26 Matt Moulson
77 Dmitry Kulikov - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
29 Jake McCabe - 6 Cody Franson
4 Josh Gorges - 41 Justin Falk
Goal: 40 Robin Lehner