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Sabres Seek to Stifle Surging Rangers

Rangers enter Keybank Center with a 4-1 record in December.

NHL: Seattle Kraken at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 26

Buffalo Sabres (8-14-3) vs. New York Rangers (17-5-3)

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

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter

Know Your Opponent

New York Rangers

Record: 17-5-3 | 37 PTS

Division Ranking: 2nd in Metropolitan Division

PP: 7th (24%)

PK: 9th (83.1%)

What to Watch

1. Hounding the Fox

Proving that last year’s Norris Trophy was no fluke, Adam Fox has been an absolute force for the Rangers this year. He has 27 points in 25 games and has been a key piece to the Rangers great start. Look for the Sabres to try and stifle Fox with a hard forecheck to limit his offensive impact. In the Rangers’ last game, Fox was held pointless with a -3 against Colorado’s relentless pressure. Buffalo will have to do their best Aves impression to prevent a rebound game from Fox. Although the forecheck has left much to be desired at times this year, the Sabres have typically played significantly better at home and are seeking to erase the Ducks shutout from their memories.

2. Jankowski Returns

With Mittelstadt undergoing surgery today for an upper body injury, Mark Jankowski draws back into the lineup centering Murray and Hinostroza. Jankowski had a great start to the year in Rochester on an AHL deal (12 points in 13 games) but was practically invisible during his Sabres debut. He has the tools to be a quality role player but has yet to live up to his potential as a 2012 first round pick. Ironically, that pick was acquired by the Sabres in the Paul Gaustad trade and then flipped to Calgary to move up for Girgensons. Sabres must have known they’d be able to sign him for the league minimum 9 years later when they pulled the trigger on that trade. Look for him to play with desperation and stake his claim to a spot in the lineup. It may be his last chance to stay in the NHL.

3. Power Play Prowess

The Rangers have scored power-play goals in 5 straight games and have the 7th best power play in the league. Just like Fox, Artemi Panaran has been on an absolute tear recently, notching 3 goals and 5 assists in his last 3 games. He’s had a goal and two assists on the man advantage in the same time frame. Allowing him extra space on the man advantage would prove as costly as a New Year’s Uber ride at 2am. Unless UPL bails out his teammates, Buffalo might not enjoy the likely result of undisciplined penalties.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Skinner - Thompson - Olofsson

Asplund - Cozens - Okposo

Girgensons - Eakin - Hayden

Murray - Jankowski - Hinostroza

Defense

Dahlin - Jokiharju

Bryson - Miller

Butcher – Pysyk

Starting Goaltender: Luukkonen

New York Rangers

Forwards

Kreider - Zibanejad - Kakko

Panarin - Strome - Hunt

Lafreniere - Chtil - Gauthier

Rooney - Goodrow – Reaves

Defense

Lindgren - Fox

Miller - Trouba

Nemeth – Lundkvist

Starting Goaltender: Georgiev