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Sabres will look to end three-game skid against Rangers

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Buffalo travels to the Big Apple for the first time this season to take on another East Division foe

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Sara Schmidle/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 20

Buffalo Sabres (6-10-3) vs. New York Rangers (7-9-3)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter

Know Your Opponent

New York Rangers

Record: (7-9-3) | 17 PTS

Division Ranking: 6th in East Division

PP: 27th (14.9%)

PK: 7th (85.3%)

What to Watch

1. Special Teams Battle

Though the Sabres’ third-ranked power-play was stymied by the Philadelphia Flyers this past weekend, they are still an extremely dangerous unit. On the flipside, the Rangers have one of the best penalty-kill units in the NHL this season.

The even-strength woes in Buffalo are well documented. On the year, they’re averaging a sliver more than one goal per game at five-on-five. Even against a less intimidating foe like the Rangers, the Sabres man-advantage unit will need to convert on their opportunities.

2. Krueger in Hot Water?

Following back-to-back shoutout losses this weekend, Ralph Krueger’s seat probably started feeling a little warm. It goes without saying that the Sabres’ current record is not reflective of the expectations that the organization had in place after adding Taylor Hall in the offseason.

The perpetual coaching carousel in Buffalo has become a rather exhausting affair. Still, if Krueger’s side cannot manage even one victory in back-to-back sets against a sub-500 team, it could spell the end of his tenure in Western New York.

3. Somebody Please Score a Goal

Outside of Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, and surprisingly, Curtis Lazar, the Sabres’ forwards have done an abysmal job of finishing chances in 2020-21. Outside of those three players, Buffalo’s other forwards have produced just 18 goals in a combined 175 games played.

At some point, the team’s high-priced forwards need to start closing the deal, particularly at even-strength. Though the Sabres have a penchant for making mediocre netminders look like All-Stars, Igor Shesterkin and Alex Georgiev rank 36th and 44th, respectively in terms of save-percentage among NHL goalies who have appeared in at least seven games this season (of which there are 50).

If there was ever a game to break a scoring drought, this is the one.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

No reported lines from the morning skate. Jacob Bryson, Colin Miller, and Dylan Cozens will return to the lineup. Casey Mittelstadt was sent to the taxi squad, therefore he won’t play.

New York Rangers

Forwards

Alexis Lafreniere - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich

Chris Kreider - Ryan Strome - Colin Blackwell

Phil Di Giuseppe - Brett Howden - Julien Gauthier

Brendan Lemieux - Kevin Rooney - Jonny Brodzinski

Defense

Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox

K’Andre Miller - Brendan Smith

Jack Johnson - Libor Hajek

Projected Starter: Alexandar Georgiev