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Preview: Sabres to closeout home stand against Rangers

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Buffalo will look to close out their seven-game home streak on a high note as they host New York tonight

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Game 57

Buffalo Sabres (28-21-7) vs. New York Rangers (24-24-8)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter

Know Your Opponent

New York Rangers

Record: (24-24-8) | 56 points

Last 10: 5-4-1

Division Ranking: 7th in the Metropolitan Division

Conference Ranking: T-12th in the Eastern Conference

PP: 11th (21.4%)

PK: 25th (77.7%)

What to Watch

1. Don’t Underestimate Your Opponent

Despite their sub-par record this season, the Rangers’ play has improved a bit as of late. Eight of their last 10 games have been decided by just one goal. That stretch includes victories over strong opponents like the Boston Bruins (twice) and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Sabres have a great opportunity to secure two points tonight, but they mustn't look ahead to the three-game road stretch that begins this weekend.

2. Ice Time and Player Deployment

As Chad outlined in his article yesterday, Jack Eichel has been getting more defensive zone opportunities as of late in favor of “Swiss army knife” Vladimir Sobotka. We’ll see if that trend continues tonight as it appears that Phil Housley has finally caught onto the fact that Sobotka’s perceived strengths aren’t exactly... strong.

3. Rangers Struggling in Net

This season, the Rangers’ netminder tandem of Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev have struggles, posting save-percentages of .907 and .905, respectively. Georgiev is the confirm starter for New York tonight. In the 23-year-old’s only career start against Buffalo last season, he stopped 44 of 45 shots-faced in his team’s 5-1 victory. Hopefully the Sabres have an easier time of solving the young Bulgarian this time around.

4. Mittelstadt Back in Action?

Rookie centerman, Casey Mittelstadt missed the Sabres’ last game against the New York Islanders with what was reportedly a lower-body injury. The 20-year-old was back skating at practice yesterday, but did not participate in line rushes.

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Jason Pominville

Conor Sheary - Evan Rodrigues / Casey Mittelstadt - Sam Reinhart

C.J. Smith - Vladimir Sobotka- Tage Thompson

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Marco Scandella - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Matt Hunwick

Jake McCabe - Lawrence Pilut

Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark (unconfirmed)

New York Rangers

Forwards

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Pavel Buchnevich

Vladislav Namestnikov - Ryan Strome - Jesper Fast

Filip Chytil - Boo Nieves- Connor Brickley

Defense

Marc Staal - Neal Pionk

Brady Skjei - Adam McQuaid

Brendan Smith - Kevin Shattenkirk

Starting Goaltender: Alexandar Georgiev (confirmed)