Buffalo Sabres (26-20-4) vs. Calgary Flames (24-18-10)
Puck Drop: 12:30 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Flames Blog: Matchsticks and Gasoline
Know Your Opponent
Record: 24-18-10 | 58 PTS
Last Game: 2-1 Loss vs. Detroit Red Wings
Division Ranking: 5th in Pacific Division
PP: 25th (19%)
PK: 6th (82.3%)
What to Watch
1. Fresh Off the Break
Fresh legs will hopefully be in the Sabres’ favor today as this is their first game since February 1st - which, unfortunately, resulted in a hard-to-watch 5-1 loss to Carolina. The Flames are coming off of their own tough loss against the Red Wings this week who are just above .500 themselves.
Tage Thompson left the last game with an injury and missed his first All-Star appearance, but is seemingly ready to be back on the ice this weekend after participating in practices this week. His scoring will continue to be vital as the Sabres will need every point they can rack up until mid-April. Thompson has 17 points in his last 15 games and, if he contributes a point against the Flames, will surpass his previous single-season career high in points of 68 from last season.
Thompson’s linemate Alex Tuch has also been a key part of offense this season, especially lately with 44 points in his last 35 games.
2. Cozens Signed
Since the All-Star break, much has happened - especially for Dylan Cozens. Like fellow center Thompson, Cozens has locked up the next seven years in a Sabres uniform and is now the third player to sign an extension in the last six months (along with Mattias Samuelsson, respectively). Going into today’s game, he has 35 points in 36 games on the season thus far and ranks second in the league among forwards 22 and younger with multi-assist games (seven).
DYLAN COZENS IS STAYING IN BUFFALO. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/JGFcrTMtDG— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) February 7, 2023
3. Final Stretch Begins Now
It has been many years since Buffalo has been considered a playoff contender and, to be honest, it feels good to not be completely out of it yet. This is the first time in a long time fans have been keeping a close eye on the standings this late in the season as Buffalo continues to push for much-needed points during these final few months. With 56 total, the Sabres are four points behind the Washington Capitals who hold the first Wild Card seed. Also battling alongside the Sabres for a playoff spot are the Penguins, Panthers, and Islanders.
The Sabres’ home record this year is underwhelming at 11-13-2 and the Flames’ are slightly better with a road record of 10-9-8. Buffalo defeated Calgary 6-3 during their last matchup, which took place back in late October.
On a positive note, this season is the first one since the early 1990s in which the Sabres have had at least four players tally 50 points or more before game 50. Let’s keep the momentum going into the postseason, boys.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson* - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson
Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo
*Thompson is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury but practiced on Friday and will likely play today. Rasmus Asplund would fill the potential missing spot.
Rasmus Dahlin - Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (expected starter), Eric Comrie, Craig Anderson
Dillon Dube - Elias Lindholm - Tyler Toffoli
Jakob Pelletier - Nazem Kadri - Jonathan Huberdeau
Andrew Mangiapane - Mikael Backlund - Blake Coleman
Milan Lucic - Adam Ruzicka - Trevor Lewis
Noah Hanifin - Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov - MacKenzie Weegar
Dennis Gilbert - Michael Stone
Goaltenders: Dan Vladar, Jacob Markstrom (expected starter)