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Struggling Sabres host losing Red Wings

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Buffalo faces Detroit in a game between two weak teams

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Game 54

Buffalo Sabres (23-23-7) vs. Detroit Red Wings (12-38-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY

TV: NBCSN

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Red Wings Blog: Wingin’ It in Motown

Know Your Opponent

Detroit Red Wings

Record: 12-38-4

Last 10: 1-8-1

Division Ranking: 8th in Atlantic Division

Conference Ranking: 16th in Eastern Conference

PP: 30th (14.5%)

PK: 31st (73.2%)

What to Watch

1. Please... Just Win This One

Yes, the Sabres have been struggling. Fan frustration is high... and Thursday’s game might be a must-win for the team. After all, if you can’t beat the worst team in the league, who has just 28 points to your 53, is one of the worst in the league on both power-play and penalty kill, has a minus-96 goal differential and is on a six-game losing streak.... what can you do?

After Tuesday’s pitiful showcase against the Colorado Avalanche, which pushed many fans to leave KeyBank Center early, and many who stuck around to boo the team, Thursday’s game is critical in regards to the pulse of this organization.

2. Goaltending Duo

Carter Hutton was relieved by Jonas Johansson in Tuesday’s game against the Avalanche. Johansson made his NHL debut, and it seems likely that he’ll get a little more playing time as we move forward, given the Sabres’ packed schedule.

3. Injury Updates

The Sabres are still dealing with a multitude of injuries. Rasmus Dahlin remains day-to-day but did not practice with the team on Wednesday. Johan Larsson is also day-to-day, while Curtis Lazar (illness) is the same. Kyle Okposo, Victor Olofsson and Linus Ullmark are all considered week-to-week.

Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson are, of course, still out indefinitely.

4. The Rochester Shuffle

The shuffle of players to and from the Rochester Americans continues, as the Sabres sent Jean-Sebastian Dea back to Rochester on Wednesday. They recalled Scott Wilson in his place.

Sure, why not.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jimmy Vesey - Jack Eichel - Sam Reinhart

Jeff Skinner - Evan Rodrigues - Rasmus Asplund

Conor Sheary - Marcus Johansson - Michael Frolik

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Scott Wilson

Defense

Brandon Montour - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Henri Jokiharju

Lawrence Pilut - Colin Miller

Zach Bogosian

Starting Goaltender: Jonas Johansson (first NHL start)

Detroit Red Wings

Forwards

Darren Helm - Dylan Larkin - Robby Fabbri

Tyler Bertuzzi - Valtteri Filppula - Justin Abdelkader

Taro Hirose - Luke Glendening - Andreas Athanasiou

Givani Smith - Christoffer Ehn - Adam Erne/Brendan Perlini

Defense

Patrik Nemeth - Alex Biega

Dennis Cholowski - Filip Hronek

Trevor Daley - Gustav Lindstrom (NHL debut)

Jonathan Ericsson - Madison Bowey

Starting Goaltender: Jonathan Bernier (expected)