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Preview: Sabres road trip continues this afternoon against Canucks

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Buffalo will try to get back on the winning track in a matinee game against Vancouver

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Vancouver Canucks Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Game 30

Buffalo Sabres (13-11-5) vs. Vancouver Canucks (14-11-4)

Puck Drop: 4:00 PM EST | Rogers Arena | Vancouver, British Columbia

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Canucks Blog: Nucks Misconduct

Know Your Opponent

Vancouver Canucks

Record: (14-11-4) | 32 PTS

Last 10: 4-5-1

Division Ranking: 5th in Pacific Division

Conference Ranking: 9th in Western Conference

PP: 4th (26.8%)

PK: 16th (81.6%)

What to Watch

1. Battle of the Expansion Brothers

For the first time in their respective 50th seasons, the Canucks and Sabres will face-off in a battle of the 1970 expansion class. To this point in the 2019-20 season, the two franchises have fared similarly. Both find themselves on the fringe of the playoff race and both have struggled with overall consistency.

While the Sabres currently hold the longest playoff drought in the NHL at eight years, the Canucks have struggled to get into the postseason as well, with their last appearance in 2014-15.

2. Back to the 12-6 Approach?

According to Sabres’ head coach Ralph Krueger, the team is strongly considering going back to dressing the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen, as opposed to the 11-7 approach that the team had been employing for the past few games.

When Rasmus Dahlin returns from his concussion, the Sabres will have eight healthy defensemen on the active roster. How they continue to manage the logjam (especially if they intend to switch to, and stick with the 12-6 approach) will certainly be interesting to monitor.

All seven of the team’s active blueliners skated at practice yesterday. We will know which one will sit this afternoon as we get closer to game time.

3. The Return of Okposo?

After suffering his fourth concussion as a member of the blue-and-gold, many speculated that Okposo would perhaps call it a career. The 31-year-old stated that the thought did indeed cross his mind during his latest recovery.

At yesterday’s practice, Okposo rotated in with Evan Rodrigues on a line with Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons. If the medical staff deems him healthy enough to play, perhaps we’ll see the return of the “LOG Line” against Vancouver.

Game Prediction

Projected Lineups Based on Practices

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Marcus Johansson - Rasmus Asplund

Jimmy Vesey - Casey Mittelstadt - Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo / Evan Rodrigues

Defense

Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen

Marco Scandella - Henri Jokiharju

Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian / Colin Miller

Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark (expected)

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards

Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Josh Leivo

J.T. Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser

Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Nikolay Goldobin

Loui Eriksson - Tim Schaller - Zack MacEwen

Defense

Jordie Benn - Chris Tanev

Quinn Hughes - Tyler Myers

Oscar Fantenberg - Troy Stecher

Starting Goaltender: Thatcher Demko