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Slumping Sabres Head North to Ottawa

Two struggling teams square off Wednesday evening.

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NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Game 17

Buffalo Sabres (7-9-0) vs. Ottawa Senators (5-9-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Canadian Tire Centre | Ottawa, ON

TV: MSG

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Senators Blog: Silver Seven Sens

Know Your Opponent

Ottawa Senators

Record: 5-9-1

Last Game: 4-2 loss to Islanders

Division Ranking: 8th in Atlantic Division

PP: 23.2% (10th)

PK: 76.8% (20th)

What to Watch

1. Offensive Threats on Ottawa

Just as the Sabres have a few key offensive threats - Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner come to mind - so, too, do the Senators. Captain Brady Tkachuk has 20 points in 15 games and leads the team in points and assists (14). Claude Giroux and Shane Pinto each have eight goals on the season. Tim Stützle has put up 15 points in as many games, while Drake Batherson (14) and Alex DeBrincat (13) aren’t far behind.

Pinto and Batherson each have three power play goals, while Batherson and DeBrincat have been most lethal on the advantage. These are certainly players to contain, as the Sabres have one of the worst penalty kills in the league at just 71.4 percent. (Only Edmonton, Anaheim and Vancouver are worse.)

2. Back to Comrie

Since Craig Anderson played last night against the Canucks, it’ll be Eric Comrie returning to the net for tonight’s game. Don Granato spoke earlier this week about the importance of rest for Anderson, so they’re clearly going to rely on Comrie heavily, especially in back-to-back cases like this.

Fun fact: if he does start tonight, this will be the first time in Eric Comrie’s career that he’s facing the Ottawa Senators.

3. Dahlin’s Workload

Following last night’s game, Rasmus Dahlin is averaging 26:24 minutes per game. Only Drew Doughty out in Los Angeles has seen more average ice time (26:36); Cale Maker is also pretty close (26:23). Thomas Chabot, who is currently out for Ottawa, has played 25:45 per game on average.

Anyone who’s watched a Sabres game this year knows what a big role Dahlin has on this team, but one thing to watch is how the Sabres use him and Power (averaging 23:48). Should they stick as a pairing, or be split up to better balance out the defense?

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Peyton Krebs - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson

Zemgus Girgensons - Dylan Cozens - JJ Peterka

Rasmus Asplund - Riley Sheahan - Vinnie Hinostroza

Defense

Owen Power - Rasmus Dahlin

Jacob Bryson - Henri Jokiharju

Lawrence Pilut - Ilya Lyubushkin

Goaltenders: Eric Comrie (projected starter), Craig Anderson

Scratches: Anders Bjork, Casey Fitzgerald

Injuries: Mattias Samuelsson, Kyle Okposo, Jack Quinn

*Note: the Sabres didn’t have a morning skate today, so we’ll see if there are any lineup changes.

Ottawa Senators

Forwards

Brady Tkachuk - Tim Stützle - Claude Giroux

Alex DeBrincat - Derick Brassard - Mathieu Joseph

Tyler Motte - Shane Pinto - Drake Batherson

Parker Kelly - Dylan Gambrell - Austin Watson

Defense

Jake Sanderson - Travis Hamonic

Erik Brannstrom - Jacob Bernard-Docker

Nick Holden - Jacob Larsson

Goaltenders: Anton Forsberg, Cam Talbot

Injuries: Josh Norris, Artem Zub, Thomas Chabot