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Sabres host expansion sibling Canucks

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Buffalo and Vancouver will square-off for a second time in their respective 50th seasons

Buffalo Sabres v Vancouver Canucks

Game 45

Buffalo Sabres (19-18-7) vs. Vancouver Canucks (23-17-4)

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

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Canucks Blog: Nucks Misconduct

Know Your Opponent

Vancouver Canucks

Record: 23-17-4

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.

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.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jimmy Vesey - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Michael Frolik - Marcus Johansson - Conor Sheary

Rasmus Asplund - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Evan Rodrigues - Curtis Lazar - Scott Wilson

Defense

Jake McCabe - Rasmus Ristolainen

Rasmus Dahlin - Brandon Montour

Lawrence Pilut - Henri Jokiharju

Starting Goaltender: Carter Hutton (expected)

Vancouver Canucks

Forwards

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

Defense

Alexander Edler - Tyler Myers

Quinn Hughes - Chris Tanev

Jordie Benn - Troy Stecher

Starting Goalie: Jacob Markstrom (projected)