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Preview: Sabres return home after Sweden trip

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Buffalo returns to the KeyBank Center for the first time in 12 days.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Game 18

Buffalo Sabres (9-6-2) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (10-7-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Hurricanes Blog: Canes Country

Know Your Opponent

Carolina Hurricanes

Record: (10-7-1) | 21 PTS

Last 10: 4-5-1

Division Ranking: 5th in Metropolitan Division

Conference Ranking: 9th in Eastern Conference

PP: 11th (22.4%)

PK: 14th (91.8%)

What to Watch

1. The Wrong Kind of Streak

The Buffalo Sabres return to the KeyBank Center ice after five days off, following their back-to-back appearances in Sweden.

Buffalo currently finds themselves on the wrong kind of streak - a prolonged losing streak.

In the month of November, the Sabres are 0-4-0 with an average of 1.5 goals scored per game. Not a very good attempt at promoting a winning hockey product.

2. Odd Man Out

Buffalo finds themselves getting healthy on the blueline, which understandably creates a scenario where someone might just find themselves on the outside looking in.

On Thursday night, all signs point to that player being Colin Miller.

Marco Scandella participated in practice on Wednesday morning and appears ready to return to the lineup for the first time since October 24.

With Zach Bogosian returning to practice as well, something might need to give sooner than later.

3. Testing Depth

As reported on Wednesday, forward Vladimir Sobotka will miss four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

Safe to presume that Sobotka is nursing some sort of knee injury, judging by how he last left the ice in Sweden.

Sobotka’s absence provides a test for the Buffalo Sabres depth, which starts with giving Curtis Lazar a shot in Sobotka’s absence.

Will Lazar stick around or will Jason Botterill need to go to the next man in line? Only time will tell.

Game Prediction

Projected Lineup

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Conor Sheary

Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Curtis Lazar

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Brandon Montour

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Carolina Hurricanes

Forwards

Ryan Dzingel - Jordan Staal - Warren Foegele

Andrei Svechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen

Nino Niederreiter - Lucas Wallmark - Martin Necas

Brock McGinn - Eetu Luostarinen - Brian Gibbons

Defense

Jaccob Slavin - Dougie Hamilton

Joel Edmundson - Brett Pesce

Jake Gardiner - Haydn Fleury

Starting Goaltender: Petr Mrazek