Buffalo Sabres (21-33-8) vs. Vancouver Canucks (30-26-7)
Puck Drop: 10:00 PM EST | Rogers Arena | Vancouver, BC
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Canucks Blog: Nucks Misconduct
Know Your Opponent
Record: (30-26-7) | 67 PTS
Division Ranking: 5th in Pacific Division
Last Game: 5-2 loss vs. Flames
PP: 21.3% (13th)
PK: 71.0% (32nd)
What To Watch
1. Marching towards improvement
Over the past three seasons in the month of March (2019-2021), the Sabres posted an abysmal record of 3-28-4.
You read that right. Three total wins.
While it’s harder for that statistic to get much worse, the Sabres have shown positive improvements this March with a 5-3 record up until this point, and have beat tough teams like Minnesota, Vegas, Calgary and Toronto (twice). Buffalo has also done a good job preventing multiple game skids after bad losses, something that was common in the past. Tonight's game against Vancouver should be a good one between an inspired Sabres team and a Canucks squad fighting for a playoff spot.
2. Moving pieces
Both the Sabres and Canucks participated in game day trades that will affect their rosters for tonight’s game, specifically on the defensive end. Buffalo shipped off Robert Hagg to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 sixth round pick, while Vancouver sent Travis Hamonic to the Ottawa Senators for a 2022 third round pick. The Canucks also traded one of their third round picks to Toronto for Travis Dermott. While Dermott is unlikely to play against Buffalo given the lack of time, both Hagg and Hamonic would have potentially started for each team. For Buffalo, Will Butcher returns from injury and will likely take Hagg’s spot in the lineup.
3. Pucks in the net
Buffalo has put up a 1-1 record two games into their three game road trip, and looks to close it out on a positive note. However, despite winning one out of two so far, the Sabres have struggled to score, only putting two pucks in the net. Given the unpredictability of their goaltending at times, Buffalo needs to rely on their offensive fire power to win games most of the time. Dustin Tokarski had one of his best outings in the blue and gold last game against Calgary, and Craig Anderson has been stable in net since coming back from injury, but the Sabres cannot rely on goaltending to get the job done every night. Offensive pressure is definitely something Buffalo should focus on tonight, especially as Vancouver’s starting goalie Thatcher Demko was pulled in their previous game.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson
Peyton Krebs - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza
Zemgus Girgensons - Cody Eakin - Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju
Mattias Samuelsson - Jacob Bryson
Will Butcher - Colin Miller
Starting Goaltender: Craig Anderson (expected)
Tanner Pearson - J.T. Miller - Brock Boeser
Elias Pettersson - Bo Horvat - Conor Garland
Tyler Motte - Juho Lammikko - Matthew Highmore
Vasily Podkolzin - Nic Petan - Alex Chiasson
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Tyler Myers
Quinn Hughes - Luke Schenn
Brad Hunt - Noah Juulsen
Starting Goaltender: Thatcher Demko (expected)