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Sabres Hope for Wild Friday

Sabres host the Wild after big win in Toronto.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Minnesota Wild David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

Game 56

Buffalo Sabres (17-30-8) vs. Minnesota Wild (32-17-3)

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

TV: MSG-B

Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation Wild Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Know Your Opponent

Minnesota Wild Record: 32-17-3 | 67 PTS

Division Ranking: 3rd in Central Division

PP: 20th (19.4%)

PK: 21st (77.7%)

What to Watch

1. In Tage We Trust

Coming off the cathartic beatdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Sabres will look to continue their offensive outburst against the Wild. Leading the way for Buffalo is breakout player of the year Tage Thompson. He is on a 3-game goal scoring streak and has scored in 4 of his last five games. He has been the most consistent offensive producer in Buffalo this season with extradentary improvement in every aspect of his game. Even if he doesn’t end up extending his goal streak, look for him to generate chances for Skinner and Tuch.

2. Do NOT Park the Bus

The Wild have been one of the better teams out west all season and have found great success against Eastern Conference foes (16 wins in 20 games). They will be looking to avenge their earlier season home loss to Buffalo with a road victory. With Minnesota having played the Flyers last night, expect Buffalo to try and jump on the Wild and get an early lead. Even if they are successful, the Sabres cannot sit back and hope to run out the clock with the lead. Minnesota is an excellent 3rd period team as evidenced by their come from behind win last night against Philadelphia. Granato must make it clear to the players that if they let up the pressure, any lead they gain tonight can disappear rapidly.

3. Cohesiveness is Key

The Leafs win was one of the most complete games the Sabres have put together all season. They were relentless in their pressure and supported each other defensively. It will take a similar effort to prevail over the Wild’s balanced attack. The emergence of rookie Matt Boldy has turned the Wild into a 3-line scoring attack. Only an equally balance counterattack will allow the Sabres to have success. If each line competes hard and plays together, we could be in for a Wild Friday night.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres

Forwards

Skinner - Thompson - Tuch

Mittelstadt - Cozens - Okposo

Asplund - Krebs – Olofsson

Bjork - Eakin – Hayden

Defense

Dahlin - Bryson

Hagg - Pysyk

Samuelsson - Fitzgerald

Starter: Anderson

Minnesota Wild

Forwards

Kaprizov - Hartman - Zuccarello

Foligno – Eriksson Ek – Duhaime

Boldy - Gaudreau - Fiala

Sturm - Dewar - Bjugstad

Defense

Goligoski – Spurgeon

Brodin – Kulikov

Merrill - Benn

Starter: Talbot