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No Love Lost as Buffalo Sabres Host Golden Knights

Jack Eichel is set to make his highly anticipated return to Buffalo as the Sabres face off against the Golden Knights

Buffalo Sabres v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Game 59

Buffalo Sabres (18-32-8) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (32-22-4)

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

TV: ESPN+ and Hulu

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Golden Knights Blog: Knights on Ice

Know Your Opponent

Vegas Golden Knights

Record: (32-22-4) | 68 PTS

Division Ranking: 3rd in Pacific Division

Last Game: 2-1 loss vs. Flyers

PP: 18.1% (24th)

PK: 79.6% (18th)

What To Watch

1. Jack’s Back

Well Sabres fans, the day has arrived. The prodigal son is returning to KeyBank Center, and I’m sure fans will welcome him back with open arms, right?

Highly unlikely.

Since returning from neck surgery on February 16, Eichel has put up 7 points (3 goals, 4 assists) in 10 games for the Golden Knights and has started to get back into form. Being such a high-profile player, Eichel has already become one of the faces of the franchise and is looking to help lead Vegas to the playoffs, which would be his first postseason appearance as well. However, I don’t think the Sabres faithful would be too excited to see that. Given Jack’s past opinions on the city of Buffalo and the Sabres organization, I expect fans to voice their own opinions tonight whenever he’s on the ice.

2. Goal scoring inconsistencies

One issue the Sabres have dealt with over the season is inconsistency on offense. This problem has been highlighted over Buffalo’s last four games in particular. Against Toronto and Minnesota, the Sabres scored 10 goals combined and won both, however in their last two against LA and Florida, Buffalo scored a measily one goal over both games. While the Sabres offense is still a work in progress as the rebuild continues on, scoring one goal in two games is not something that should be acceptable. I expect Buffalo to come out tonight greatly determined to put more pucks in the net.

3. Familiar Faces

Despite being a relatively new team in the NHL, Vegas has multiple players on its roster that were former Sabres, and vice versa. Besides Eichel, goalie Robin Lehner, forward William Carrier and defensemen Brayden McNabb all played for Buffalo at different points in their career. The Sabres also have many former Golden Knights, with Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs coming over in the Eichel deal, as well as acquiring goalie Malcolm Subban, forward Cody Eakin and defenseman Colin Miller over the past few seasons. While not everyone mentioned will be on the ice Thursday night, it is interesting to see some of the familiar faces on both sides line up against each other, this time in a different sweater.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch

Peyton Krebs - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza

Victor Olofsson - Casey Mittelstadt - Kyle Okposo

Rasmus Asplund - Cody Eakin - John Hayden

Defense

Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju

Casey Fitzgerald - Mark Pysyk

Mattias Samuelsson - Mark Pysyk

Starting Goaltender: Craig Anderson

Vegas Golden Knights

Forwards

Max Pacioretty - Jack Eichel - Nicolas Roy

Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Evgenii Dadonov

William Carrier - Chandler Stephenson - Michael Amadio

Jonas Rondbjerg - Jake Leschyshyn - Keegan Kolesar

Defense

Nicolas Hague - Alex Pietrangelo

Shea Theodore - Zach Whitecloud

Ben Hutton - Dylan Coghlan

Starting Goaltender: Laurent Brossoit (expected)