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Preview: They’re Back

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Sabres are back from their bye week to visit the New York Rangers

NHL: Winter Classic-Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Game #45

Buffalo Sabres (11-24-9) vs. New York Rangers (23-17-5)

Season Series: 1-0 Rangers

January 1st - Rangers 3, Sabres 2 (OT) (recap)

Puck drop: 7:30 p.m. EST | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Rangers blog: Blueshirt Banter

What to Watch

1. Can Eichel stay hot?

Entering the bye week Jack Eichel had 17 points in 12 games. It also hasn’t made a difference who has been on his wings. Eichel is creating opportunities for his teammates and being an impact player on a nightly basis.

2. Can Kane heat up again?

After a great start, Evander Kane has cooled off. He only has three goals in his last 15 games. As the trade rumors begin to pick up around him, we’ll see if he can start to light the lamp again.

3. Who Sits?

It looks like Victor Antipin will be the scratch tonight. Head coach Phil Housley wants him to get more practice time in since he came back from the flu late last week and only got in one practice.

Know Your Opponent

1. Inconsistency

The Rangers have been a roller coaster team this season. Had a really bad start to the season. Then they seemed to get it back on track. Now, they seem to be in the midst of a downswing again. They’ve lost three of four games entering tonight by a combined score of 15-10. If you take out the 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, they were outscored 14-5 in the previous three.

The Rangers will want this one tonight as this is the last home game before they begin a Western Conference road trip.

2. Free Agent Bust?

Perhaps it’s a little early to call Kevin Shattenkirk a bust for the Rangers. However, the big off-season acquisition has one point in his last 12 games and hasn’t scored a goal since November, 5th.

Projected Lineup

67 Benoit Pouliot - 15 Jack Eichel - 21 Kyle Okposo

9 Evander Kane - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 29 Jason Pominville

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 23 Sam Reinhart

20 Scott Wilson - 22 Johan Larsson - 17 Jordan Nolan

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

41 Justin Falk - 19 Jake McCabe

4 Josh Gorges - 8 Casey Nelson

Starting Goaltender: 40 Robin Lehner