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Preview: Sabres host Red Wings in Saturday matinee

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1 p.m. puck drop sees Buffalo host struggling Detroit squad

Buffalo Sabres v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Game 54

Buffalo Sabres (26-21-6) vs Detroit Red Wings (21-26-7)

Puck Drop: 1:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Red Wings blog; Winging it in Motown

Know Your Opponent

Detroit Red Wings

Record: (21-26-7) | 49 points

Last 10: 5-5-0

Division Ranking: 7th in Atlantic Division

Conference Ranking: 14th in Eastern Conference

PP: 24th (16.3%)

PK: 24th (78.2%)

What to Watch

1. Back-to-back

This afternoon’s game opens a back-to-back set of home games for the Sabres this weekend, who will be back in action on Sunday at 3 p.m. It’s also the Sabres’ second game in three nights, and overall, part of a set that sees them play three games in four days.

After the team’s sad overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Thursday - in which they were lucky to squeeze out a point - things can get out of hand quickly here between these next few games. The Sabres need to rebound with a good effort this afternoon to keep morale alive.

2. Who will step up?

Sam Reinhart essentially put out a call to his teammates following their recent loss to Carolina. Everyone needs to step up and do better (except perhaps Jeff Skinner, who was admittedly pretty excellent in Thursday’s game.) So who’s actually going to step up?

Coach Housley said that the team’s mistakes are fixable - so will they actually be fixed?

3. Who’s in, who’s out?

With no morning skate prior to Saturday’s game, there are some questions regarding the lineup. If nothing else, it seems likely that Lawrence Pilut will be out, as he was skating as part of the extra D pairing in Friday’s practice. It’s also possible that C.J. Smith has to watch Saturday’s game from the press box.

In other news, Casey Nelson has been assigned to the Amerks on a conditioning stint. When he returns, the Sabres will have nine healthy defensemen.

Buffalo Sabres (Projected)

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Jason Pominville

Conor Sheary - Casey Mittelstadt - Sam Reinhart

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Vladimir Sobotka - Evan Rodrigues - Tage Thompson

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Zach Bogosian

Marco Scandella - Rasmus Ristolainen

Nathan Beaulieu - Matt Hunwick

Starting Goaltender: Linus Ullmark

Detroit Red Wings (projected)

Forwards

Justin Abdelkader - Dylan Larkin - Gustav Nyquist

Thomas Vanek - Frans Nielsen - Anthony Mantha

Darren Helm - Luke Glendening - Andreas Athanasiou

Christoffer Ehn - Jacob de la Rose - Michael Rasmussen

Defense

Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green

Danny DeKeyser - Nick Jensen

Jonathan Ericsson - Dennis Cholowski

Starting Goaltender: Jonathan Bernier