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Preview: Sabres seek road victory against surging Panthers

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At 1-7-2 in their last 10 games, the Sabres will have their work cut out for them against the high-octane Panthers

NHL: Florida Panthers at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 23

Buffalo Sabres (10-9-3) vs. Florida Panthers (12-6-5)

Puck Drop: 5:00 PM EST | BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Know Your Opponent

Florida Panthers

Record: (12-6-5) | 29 PTS

Last 10: 6-3-1

Division Ranking: 2nd in Atlantic Division

Conference Ranking: 5th in Eastern Conference

PP: 5th (25.0%)

PK: 17th (81.0%)

What to Watch

1. Past Us By

We are watching two teams that are trending in the opposite direction. Buffalo has four points out of a possible 20 in their last 10 games. Florida has taken 13. It is incredible that the Cats maintain a slight three-game lead on the Sabres, with a game in hand.

Taking two against the Panthers in regulation today would be huge for the Sabres, who are scrapping for points in the standings wherever they can. If you can say games in the first quarter of the season are important, this is one.

2. Uneven Strength

Special teams could be a determining factor in this evening’s matchup. The Panthers are excellent on the power play, and better than average on the kill. Buffalo, on the other hand, is 26th on the penalty kill, giving Florida quite an advantage when it comes to this game.

The Panthers went 0-for-2 on the advantage last night in Carolina, and will be looking to bounce back from the 4-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the Canes. Taking advantage of Buffalo’s flailing penalty kill could be just what they are looking for.

3. Bogo Boost

Buffalo gains the services of Zach Bogosian for the first time this season. When healthy, the aging defender has been one of the most consistent players for the Sabres. Last season, he was a calming influence for a young Rasmus Dahlin, who has been struggling this year to regain his previous form. Hopefully Bogo can give both the team and his teenaged partner the boost on the backend that they need so, so badly.

Projected Lineup

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jimmy Vesey - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Curtis Lazar

Casey Mittelstadt - Rasmus Asplund - Victor Olofsson

Defense

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian

Colin Miller - Brandon Montour

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Florida Panthers

Forwards

Brett Connolly - Vincent Trocheck - Frank Vatrano

Evgenii Dadonov - Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov

Noel Acciari - Colton Sceviour - Brian Boyle

Mike Hoffman - Dominic Toninato - Denis Malgin

Defense

Keith Yandle - Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson - Anton Stralman

Mark Pysyk - Josh Brown

Starting Goaltender: Sergei Bobrovsky