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Preview: Game 61 - David v Goliath

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Buffalo needs a win in a seemingly impossible situation

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Game 61

Buffalo Sabres (27-25-8) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (37-16-6)

Puck Drop: 1:00 PM EST | PPG Paints Arena | Pittsburgh, PA

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh

Know Your Opponent

Pittsburgh Penguins

Record: (37-16-6) | 80 PTS

Last 10: 6-3-1

Division Ranking: 1st in Metropolitan Division

Conference Ranking: 3rd in Eastern Conference

PP: 9th (21.8%)

PK: 8th (82.6%)

What to Watch

1. Cross your fingers

Is it really a surprise that the Penguins find themselves at the top of the Metropolitan Division again? Somehow, even when they are down, Pittsburgh finds a way to make other organizations look...feeble...If we’re being honest, they are third in the conference because they play in a stronger division. After watching the dumpster fire that took place on the ice in Ottawa, it would be utterly out of character for this floundering Sabres team to unseat one of the best teams in the NHL.

2. JJ

One has to think that Jonas Johansson will get his third career start after Carter Hutton failed the Buffalo Sabres against the Ottawa Senators. Comparisons of this team have been made to the tank team, but they are a desperate correlations - those goaltenders played so well that the general manager had to trade them so the organization could stay on track to the bottom. Hutton posted a couple of solid performances, but just fell apart when the team was gaining momentum. Please, for the love of sanity, give Hutton the afternoon off...

3. Fix 53

The once player-friendly confines of WGR’s The Instagaters turned on Jeff Skinner this week, when Marty Biron called the forward’s work ethic into question. It’s an observation from a credited analyst, and it has to be disappointing for someone who signed a very large, and perhaps not-quite-earned contract just nine months ago. It’s been a long time since Skinner found the back of the net. Someone, somewhere, sometime, has to speak to him in a way that...fixes it. Someone has to know how to make him score the way he did in a contract year. And it can’t be Jack Eichel. Let Eichel do his thing. Make Skinner figure it out on his own.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Victor Olofsson - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Michael Frolik

Jimmy Vesey - Curtis Lazar - Conor Sheary

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Kyle Okposo

Defense

Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Henri Jokiharju

Rasmus Dahlin - Colin Miller

Starting Goaltender: Jonas Johansson (unconfirmed)

Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards

Jason Zucker - Sidney Crosby - Dominik Simon

Jared McCann - Evgeni Malkin - Bryan Rust

Brandon Tanev - Teddy Blueger - Patric Hornqvist

Dominik Kahun - Andrew Agozzino - Sam Lafferty

Defense:

Jack Johnson - Kris Letang

Marcus Pettersson - Justin Schultz

Juuso Riikola - Chad Ruhwedel

Starting goalie: Matt Murray