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Preview: Sabres Visit the High Flying Jets

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Sabres will have their hands full tonight with the speed and skill of the Winnipeg Jets

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #41

Buffalo Sabres (10-21-9) vs. Winnipeg Jets (23-11-7)

Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. EST | Bell MTS Centre | Winnipeg, Manitoba


Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Jets blog: Arctic Ice Hockey

What to Watch

1. Don’t repeat last night.

The Sabres bring the same defensive game they had last night it could get ugly really quick. The Jets are a fast team that can fill the net in bunches with the talent they have on the roster. The poor defensive coverage and turnovers we saw last night in Minnesota show up again, the score could be worse.

2. Line Changes

Phil Housley went a few games not messing with the lines. However, after last night, I’d assume we’ll see some shuffling in the lines. For example in the third period last night Evander Kane was back on a line with Jack Eichel and Jason Pominville.

3. Ocho-Cinco

It’s not confirmed, but Chad Johnson will likely be between the pipes tonight for the Sabres. He relieved Robin Lehner in the third period yesterday, but with the Philadelphia Flyers on tap for Sunday. It would make sense to get Johnson in this game on the back to back.

Johnson had a scoreless third period. He’s struggled his last few starts, so we’ll see what kind of performance he can put together tonight. The Sabres will need him to play well if they want to have a shot at getting a win.

Know Your Opponent

1. The Jets found a goaltender.

Winnipeg has always struggled to have that franchise goalie they can rely on. Well, it appears they’ve finally found the guy. It’s not Steve Mason who they signed for over $4 million a season in the offseason. It’s Connor Hellebuyck. The 24-year-old is having a career year with 21 wins, a 2.38 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in 33 appearances.

2. Former Sabres

Of course, we have to touch on the former Sabres in the Jets lineup that were part of the big trade a few years ago. We’ll start with Tyler Myers who has five goals and 19 points in 41 games this season. After missing nearly the entire season last year, the big defender has rebounded well for Winnipeg.

Joel Armia has carved out a nice spot in the bottom six of the Jets lineup. He has six goals and 16 points in 38 games. He’s had some flashy goals this season and is always a threat shorthanded.

3. Watch out for the big dogs.

With Mark Scheifele out six to eight weeks with an injury. The Jets have three players who lead the charge offensively. The first is the highly underrated Blake Wheeler. The 31-year-old is one of the top 10 players in the game that never gets credit for it. He has 47 points in 41 games this season.

We all know about the dangerous shot and skill of Patrik Laine. After a slow start, the 2016 second overall pick has 18 goals and 34 points this season. He’s also hot coming into tonight with five points in the previous three games.

Lastly, is shifty forward Nikolaj Ehlers. His combination of speed and skill can take over a game. The 2014 first round pick has 17 goals and 31 points so far this season.

Projected Lineup (unconfirmed)

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville

28 Zemgus Girgensons - 90 Ryan O’Reilly - 23 Sam Reinhart

67 Benoit Pouliot - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 21 Kyle Okposo

17 Jordan Nolan - 10 Jacob Josefson - 22 Johan Larsson

6 Marco Scandella - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen

19 Jake McCabe - 47 Zach Bogosian

82 Nathan Beaulieu - 4 Josh Gorges

Starting Goaltender: 31 Chad Johnson