Buffalo Sabres (26-35-11) vs. Florida Panthers (49-15-6)
Puck Drop: 7:00PM EDT FLA Live Arena Sunrise, FL
TV: MSG-B, BSFL
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Florida Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats
Know Your Opponent
Record: Florida Panthers (49-15-6)
Last Game: 7-6 OT win over the Leafs
Division Ranking: 1st in the Atlantic Division
PP: 7th (23.68%)
PK: 17th (78.83%)
What to Watch
1. Can the Sabres Beat the Cats This Season?
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t won a game against the Florida Panthers since Jan. 4, 2020. Every time the two teams have met in the past two years, the Panthers have annihilated their opponent, beating Buffalo by more than one goal. Kyle Okposo, speaking for the rest of the players, said at Wednesday’s practice at KeyBank Center that he didn’t want the year to end. Dylan Cozens added that if the Sabres outworked their opponents, they’d continue to win games. The Sabres failed to outwork Carolina yesterday. Fans would like to see them outwork the Panthers once this season and come away with two points.
2. Will the Refs Keep Their Thumbs Off the Scales?
During their last matchup against Florida on April 3rd, the Sabres came back from a three-goal deficit to score two power play goals within two minutes and come close to tying the game. Then the refs gave Tage Thompson a tripping penalty late in the third period and on top of that, penalized Mattias Samuelsson for hooking, to give the Cats a 5-3 man advantage. Not surprisingly, Florida scored and put the game out of reach.
WGR 550’s Paul Hamilton called the tripping call “ridiculous” and pointed out that officials had been ignoring similar behavior across the NHL for the previous three weeks. If Florida wins legitimately, nobody will argue the result. However, the refs shouldn’t determine games. Whenever they do, the calls seem to disproportionately favor Buffalo’s opponents.
3. Thompson, Tuch and Skinner Continue to Score
The Sabres’ top offensive line of Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner keeps making plays and getting goals. Thompson was the first player to get 30 goals and 50 points this season. Tuch has enjoyed 10 goals and 33 points while Skinner has notched 29 and 53. Skinner also tied with Thompson for a career high 219 shots on goal. Tuch, part of the Sabres’ Jack Eichel trade with Vegas, hasn’t played a full season with Buffalo but he’s already become an essential part of the franchise.
Alex Tuch-Jeff Skinner-Tage Thompson
Peyton Krebs-Vinnie Hinostroza-Dylan Cozens
Victor Olofsson-Casey Mittelstadt-Ramus Asplund
Zemgus Girgensons- Cody Eakin- Kyle Okposo
Henri Jokiharju-Ramsus Dahlin
Casey Fitzgerald-Mattias Samuelsson
Mark Pysyk-Jacob Bryson
Starting Goalie: Craig Anderson
Carter Verhaege- Alexsander Barkov- Anthony Duclair
Jonathan Huberdeau- Sam Bennett-Claude Giroux
Mason Marchment- Anton Lundell-Sam Reinhart
Ryan Lomberg- Eetu Luostarinen- Patric Hornqvist
Gustav Forsling- MacKenzie Weegar
Ben Chiarot-Radko Gudas
Robert Haag-Brandon Montour
Starting Goalie: Spencer Knight