Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Madison Square Garden | New York, NY
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.
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
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
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller - Brendan Smith
Jack Johnson - Libor Hajek
Projected Starter: Alexandar Georgiev