Buffalo Sabres (19-18-7) vs. Vancouver Canucks (23-17-4)
Puck Drop: 1:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Canucks Blog: Nucks Misconduct
Know Your Opponent
Last 10: 7-3-0
Division Ranking: 5th in the Pacific Division
Conference Ranking: 9th in Western Conference
PP: T-4th (25.0%)
PK: T-17th (80.1%)
What to Watch
1. Round Two, Fight!
Despite the fact that one of these two clubs completely dropped the ball for their 50th season celebration (can you guess which one?), there is still a certain level of fanfare and intrigue surrounding this contest. While neither team is expected to don their special third jerseys in honor of their shared milestone (weird), the on-ice battle was closely contested the first time around.
In one of their most entertaining battles of the season thus far, the Sabres had five different players register a goal in a heartbreaking 6-5 overtime loss at Rogers Arena. Hopefully the fans in Western New York are treated to a similarly entertaining affair this afternoon.
2. Hutton Back In?
While it hasn’t been officially confirmed as of yet, the expectation is for Carter Hutton to see action for the first time since December 19th. Since Hutton’s last start, Linus Ullmark has started nine consecutive games, and his recent performance may be an indication of him getting a little worn down from the workload.
In three of his last five starts, he’s posted under a .870 save-percentage. There have been a few dazzling performances sprinkled in for the moth of December (like single-handedly defeating the Florida Panthers), but the consistency, or lack thereof, has been problematic. Despite his struggles this year, it might be time to give Hutton another chance this afternoon.
3. Approaching Must-Win Season
Yesterday, WGR 550 host, Jeremy White sparked a discussion on twitter, stating that it might take something in the neighborhood of 23 more wins this season in order for the Sabres to qualify for the playoffs. His hypothetical required remaining record of 23-9-6 is probably very close to accurate, and on the surface seems almost impossible.
Part of this frustration is that, like last year, this doesn’t have to be a lost cause. Too late though? Maybe. It’d take a run like 23-9-6 to get in.— Jeremy White (@JeremyWGR) January 10, 2020
If Buffalo hopes to even sniff that level of success over their next 38 games, they need to start winning contests like these. Every single game matters moving forward. Now might not be the best time for a heroic run, considering who is missing from the forward ranks, but that’s the reality of it.
Jimmy Vesey - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart
Michael Frolik - Marcus Johansson - Conor Sheary
Rasmus Asplund - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo
Evan Rodrigues - Curtis Lazar - Scott Wilson
Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin - Brandon Montour
Lawrence Pilut - Henri Jokiharju
Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton (expected)
Tanner Pearson - Bo Horvat - Loui Eriksson
J.T. Miller - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser
Antoine Roussel - Adam Gaudette - Jake Virtanen
Tim Schaller - Jay Beagle - Tyler Motte
Alexander Edler - Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes - Chris Tanev
Jordie Benn - Troy Stecher
Starting Goalie: Jacob Markstrom (projected)