Puck Drop: 7:30 PM | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Lightning Blog: Raw Charge
Know Your Opponent
Tampa Bay Lightning
Record: (12-4-1) | 25 PTS
Last 10: 7-3-0
Division Ranking: 1st in the Atlantic Division
Conference Ranking: 1st in the Eastern Conference
PP: 9th (24.2%)
PK: T-2nd (87.7%)
What to Watch
1.) Leading question
There is little question that it has been a lot of fun to see the Sabres come from behind for two consecutive wins. The refrain of, “This team loses those games last year” could be hung on an expansive banner that stretches between KeyBank Center and Harbor Center.
It’s true, of course - it’s been forever since Buffalo iced a professional men’s hockey team that had the ability to fall behind for two periods and come back to win. It certainly demonstrates the growth that fans have been hoping for for the better part of a decade.
At some point, though, the Sabres are going to have to get an early lead and keep that lead throughout 60-minute game.
2. Mind behind
The chart below demonstrates the importance of consistent goaltending. Buffalo’s tandem of Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark has performed well. Also shown is the incredible performance that starter Andrei Vasilevskiy has put forth this season. While the Lightning starter has been lights-out, the Tampa Bay backup has been as close to awful as one could expect.
Best goalie groups: ANA, TOR, MIN, NYI, and NSH— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) November 12, 2018
Worst goalie groups: CBJ, STL, PHI, MTL, OTT pic.twitter.com/0qBsO0Ahm5
The stats really highlight how important goaltending can be in the league; especially in a season where scoring is up. Buffalo has consistently been able to put pucks in the net, but has also been consistently unable to stop them from going in. The Sabres need to prove to be mentally tough, and overcome Tampa’s perceived advantage in goal.
3. Shot through the heart
Shots. It all comes down to shots. Buffalo’s success can easily be tied to the games that it well overshot its opponent.
It is undoubtedly the strategy that Housley has been preaching to his team since his time in Buffalo commenced. It worked for the Nashville Predators when he assisted there, and it continues to be true throughout the league - shots indicate possession; possession drives wins.
The Sabres need to do everything they can to unleash an unholy number of shots on the Lightning. A positive shot differential could be the difference between a win and a loss to the East’s best team.
Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Vladimir Sobotka - Evan Rodrigues - Jason Pominville
Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Kyle Okposo
Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Tage Thompson
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Nathan Beaulieu - Rasmus Dahlin
Marco Scandella - Zach Bogosian
Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton
Tampa Bay Lightning
JT Miller- Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Yanni Gourde - Brayden Point-Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn- Anthony Cirelli - Mathieu Joseph
Adam Erne - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Ryan McDonagh - Victor Hedman
Slater Koekkoek - Dan Girardi
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev
Starting Goaltender: Louis Domingue