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Sabres Head to Where The Kings (Used To) Live

Bottom feeding and banged up Kings host on a roll Sabres

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

Game 8

Buffalo Sabres (5–1–1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (2-5-1)

Puck Drop: 4 PM (1 PM PDT) | Staples Center

TV: SN, MSG-B, EPSN+

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Kings Blog: Jewels From The Crown

Know Your Opponent

Los Angeles Kings

Record: (2-5-1)

Last Game: vs Canadiens (5-2 Win)

Division Ranking: Last in the Pacific Division

PP: 25% (Tied 9th)

PK: 66.7% (29th)

What to Watch

1. Donnie Shakes It Up After a Dub-Ya

A rare occurrence, a head coach recognizes their team has inched out some wins not by being the better team, but by the good ‘ol puck luck. Here’s what Donnie said to the media yesterday:

The easy break down, Anders Bjork seems to be out of the doghouse and instead replaces Jeff Skinner on the top line. Bjork being Donnie’s #1 PK forward, the move here looks to help Dylan Cozens with the defensive side, let alone more speed than Jeff brings in transition. While losing offense from Jeff to Anders, the top line hasn’t been scoring that much, so hard to say we could miss anything there.

Next two moves are Skinner taking Drake Caggiula’s spot on the line with Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons, one where I see great hope for Jeff to get that line back to finishing. Okposo is averaging as much 5v5 time as Cozens is this season, so I don’t think we should view this as a demotion under Donnie’s tutelage.

And with Arttu’s solid play of late, he gets two linemates in Drake Caggiula and big man Brett Murray, making his 2021 NHL Debut. We’ll see what Brett has to offer in helping this line bury more chances and keep them out of our net.

2. The Youth Has Arrived In Los Angeles

This ain’t your Kings team of past. Yeah, Kopitar is still killing it with Dustin Brown nearby and if Doughty wasn’t hurt, he’d be out there logging a heap of minutes, too. As we all had hoped the Kings were in the Jack Eichel trade talks, notable prospects Rasmus Kupari, Gabe Vilardi and Arthur Kaliyev are all in the lineup and on the ice tonight. Good watch for fans of prospect development.

3. The Rested versus the Unrested

Sabres are getting a break in the schedule on this road trip. The Kings played yesterday against the Habs while the Sabres have been enjoying the sun with Ryan Miller as VIP Guest.

Another factor to watch is how teams play on back to backs. If you haven’t noticed, NHL teams no longer play their starting goalies on back to back and this might be the way the NHL tries to balance these long distance road trips, home team isn’t rested and road guys are. Or this is all random and I’m making this up. But, the Sabres will likely know they can get the jump early on the not-so-rested Kings and their beat up defense and try and keep Cal Petersen’s numbers real pedestrian this season (898 SV% !).

Mike Kelly over at NHL Network & Sportlogiq says the Kings now lead the league in rush attempts per game. Looks like we’re going to have some fun in the neutral zone this afternoon. Go Sabres.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Anders Bjork - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza

Rasmus Asplund – Tage Thompson – Victor Olofsson

Brett Murray - Arttu Ruotsalainen – Drake Caggiula

Jeff Skinner – Zemgus Girgensons – Kyle Okposo

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Will Butcher

Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller

Robert Hagg - Mark Pysyk

Scratches: Christian Wolanin

Starting Goalie: Dustin Tokarski

Los Angeles Kings

Forwards

Viktor Arvidsson - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Alex Iafallo - Phillip Danault - Adrian Kempe

Trevor Moore - Blake Lizotte - Arthur Kaliyev

Carl Grundstrom - Rasmus Kupari - Gabriel Vilardi

Defense

Tobias Bjornfot - Matt Roy

Olli Maatta - Michael Anderson

Alexander Edler - AustinStrand

Starting Goalie: Cal Petersen