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Sabres hit Second City seeking revenge

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Chance to rebound is laid on the table

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

Game 67

Buffalo Sabres (30-28-8) vs Chicago Blackhaws (27-30-9)

Puck Drop: 8:30 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: (27-30-9) | 63 PTS

Last 10: 4-6-0

Division Ranking: 7th in Central Division

Conference Ranking: 12th in Western Conference

PP: 10th (21.9%)

PK: 31st (72.8%)

What to Watch

Stoppable force meets movable object

If your team is struggling to score, Chicago is one club that has a solution to that problem. Only the Ottawa Senators have allowed more goals against - 251 to the Blackhawks’ 250. They’ve allowed 47 goals in the last 10 games; including 19 in the last four.

This is fantastic news for Buffalo. With a team goals against of 3.20, 4.7 goals will secure a win for the blue and gold.

Unfortunately, the Sabres’ goals-for fails to meet expectations on most nights. The Sabres are just outside of the bottom-third of the league in goals per game with 2.88. Chicago averages 3.33.

This quick study of the numbers is not good for the Sabres. On any given night, anything can happen, of course, but through 66 games, Chicago has proven to be able to score better than Buffalo, even if they are a little worse at stopping the puck.

Engine, Engine Number 9

Coming down Chicago line. If the train falls off the track...of course it won’t because of Jack.

Some are quick to place the blame for the Sabres’ team woes on the shoulders of captain Jack Eichel. The fact is that the star has been the catalyst for any measure of the team’s success to this point.

Even with a despicable record of 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, Eichel has 11 points in that time (7 goals, 4 assists).

There is no question that Eichel and linemate Skinner carry the bulk of the Sabres’ offensive load, and that Jack drives that success, frequently dishing to Skinner when he’s not scoring himself. Throw in Sam Reinhart, and the Sabres have a solid top line. But...that’s where they run out of steam. Without these three players on the ice, Buffalo’s goals-for percentage is 39.29.

Eichel has been fantastic - generating shots, retaining possession, making great passes, and scoring some breathtaking goals. At some point, though, someone’s got to shovel more coals on the bottom nine. Jack can’t be the only player pushing full-steam ahead.

Penalty maim

Ineffective. Inept. Incapable. Adjectives we’re used to hearing, but in this instance, they accurately describe the Blackhawks’ penalty kill.

The team is allowing goals on nearly 28 percent of the opponents opportunities. It is a blessing for a Sabres team that is desperate for scoring at any strength.

They don’t ask how, they ask how many, and the Sabres need to put many past the Blackhawks. The power play is a fantastic time to do so - it’s Buffalo’s best chance to pull two points from a team that embarrassed them 7-3 in their last meeting.

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Conor Sheary - Evan Rodrigues - Kyle Okposo

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Tage Thompson

Scott Wison - Casey Mittelstadt - Jason Pomminville

Defense

Marco Scandella- Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Casey Nelson

Zach Bogosian - Brandon Montour

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton

Chicago Blackhawks

Forwards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - John Hayden

Alex DeBrincat- Dylan Strome- Brendan Perlini

Dominik Kahun- Artem Anisimov- Patrick Kane

Chris Kunitz- David Kampf- Marcus Kruger

Defense

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Gustav Forsling - Connor Murphy

Slater Koekkoek - Erik Gustafsson

Starting Goaltender: Corey Crawford