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Preview: Sabres travel to Chicago to take on Blackhawks

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Buffalo will look to secure victory in consecutive nights against the streaking Blackhawks

Buffalo Sabres v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Game 20

Buffalo Sabres (10-6-3) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (8-7-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | United Center | Chicago, IL

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Blackhawks Blog: Second City Hockey

Know Your Opponent

Chicago Blackhawks

Record: (8-7-4) | 20 points

Last 10: 6-2-2

Division Ranking: 6th in Central Division

Conference Ranking: 14th in Western Conference

PP: 27th (14.0%)

PK: 19th (78.7%)

What to Watch

1. Blackhawks Turning a Corner?

After a very rough start to the 2019-20 season, the Chicago Blackhawks have collected 14 points in their last 10 games, and currently ride a three-game winning streak. After previously dropping six-straight contests, the Sabres finally got back into the win column last night with a 4-2 home victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Traveling to face a Western Conference foe after playing in Western New York just last night won’t be easy, but the Sabres need to find a way to solve the streaking Hawks. Buffalo has a very tough stretch of their schedule coming up so they need to collect points against mediocre opponents.

2. Get the Power-Play Back on Track

The Sabres’ power-play unit is currently zero for their last 14 attempts with the man-advantage. Their last tally came against the Arizona Coyotes on October 28. Since then, the team has gone six-straight games without a power-play goal.

Thanks to their outstanding efficiency early in the season, Buffalo’s PP unit still ranks 10th in the NHL at 22.9-percent. If they want to keep pace in a competitive Atlantic Division, they simply must regain their previous proclivity in that area.

3. Bottom-Six Injuries Piling Up

After placing Johan Larsson on injured reserve earlier this week, the Sabres were forced to do the same with Kyle Okposo after the veteran winger took a hit to the head last night against the Senators. With two-thirds of the highly-effective “LOG Line” now sidelined, the team’s organizational depth at forward will be tested.

As a result of both players being placed on IR, the team has called-up Tage Thompson, who is off to a fantastic start with the Rochester Amerks. The 22-year-old is currently tied for the team lead with 12 points in 16 games this season.

Game Prediction

Projected Lineup

Buffalo Sabres (No Morning Skate)

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Conor Sheary

Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Curtis Lazar

Zemgus Girgensons - Rasmus Asplund - Tage Thompson

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Brandon Montour

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alex Nylander

Alex DeBrincat - Dylan Strome - Patrick Kane

Andrew Shaw - David Kampf - Dominik Kubalik

Ryan Carpenter - Kirby Dach - Zach Smith

Defense

Duncan Keith - Erik Gustafsson

Calvin de Haan - Brent Seabrook

Olli Maatta - Connor Murphy

Starting Goaltender: Corey Crawford