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Sabres Host Flames in Thursday Matchup

Tonight is the first of two matchups for these teams.

NHL: DEC 05 Sabres at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game 16

Buffalo Sabres (7-6-2) vs. Calgary Flames (8-3-5)

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

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Flames Blog: Matchsticks And Gasoline

Know Your Opponent

Calgary Flames

Record: 8-3-5 | 21 PTS

Division Ranking: 3rd in the Pacific Division

PP: 10th (22.5%)

PK: 5th (86.8%)

What to Watch

1. The First of Two

Tonight is the first of two matchups for the Flames and Sabres this season. It is the first time these two teams have faced off since the 2019-2020 season. The Sabres are a much different team since then. The game plan is to no longer look for a specific player, it’s developed into utilizing four full lines that contribute on both sides of the puck. Through 15 games, 19 different players have points and 15 different players have scored at least one goal. Rasmus Asplund leads the team with ten points, followed by five guys tied with nine.

2. The Birthday Boy

Jacob Bryson has registered 5 points through 15 games with 4 of them coming from the power play. At 5’ 9”, 175 pounds he isn’t a coast-to-coast defenseman. He has solid fundamentals and makes smart plays when breaking out of the zone.

This is a crucial hockey play that isn’t flashy but is critical for a successful breakout. As soon as Bryson knows he isn’t going to be hit, his head is already up scanning the ice. A defenseman that can break out of his zone efficiently and effectively is a key component to winning games.

3. Limiting Shots!!!

Dustin Tokarski has been stellar so far this season giving the Sabres a chance to win every night. Coming off of a career-high 45 saves against Pittsburgh, the team has to lighten his load. It’s not confirmed who will man the net tonight but regardless of who is in-between the pipes, they cannot allow another onslaught of shots. It also depends on where the shots are coming from. Let the Flames pour on attempts from the blueline, as long as there are no screens or possible tips it’s an easy stoppage of play. The Sabres are 9th in the league in shots against per game (32.9). If Aaron Dell starts tonight, there can be no shots against. Dell is 0-1 with a 5.02 GAA, and a .808 SV%. It’s tough to stay mad at a guy that has the coolest setup on the team.

Aaron Dell Pads
Dustin Tokarski Pads

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Rasmus Asplund

Drake Caggiula - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza

Zemgus Girgensons - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo

Anders Bjork - Arttu Ruotsalainen - John Hayden

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Mark Pysyk

Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller

Robert Hagg - Will Butcher

Starting Goaltender: Dustin Tokarski (expected)

Flames

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau - Elias Lindholm - Matthew Tkachuk

Blake Coleman - Sean Monahan - Andrew Mangiapane

Dillian Dube - Mikael Backland - Trevor Lewis

Milan Lucic - Brad Richardson - Walker Duehr

Defense

Noah Hanifin - Rasmus Anderson

Oliver Kylington - Chris Tanev

Nikita Zadorov - Erik Gudbranson

Starting Goaltender: Jacob Markstrom (expected)