Buffalo Sabres (32-28-4) vs. New York Rangers (36-19-9)
Puck Drop: 5:00 PM | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Rangers Blog: Blueshirt Banter
Know Your Opponent
New York Rangers
Last Game: 4-3 Shootout Win over Montreal
Division Ranking: 3rd in the Metropolitan Division
PP: 7th (23.4%)
PK: 16th (79.7%)
What to Watch
1. The New-Look Rangers
Saturday’s matchup marks the first of three meetings this season between the Sabres and Rangers. The Rangers of today are quite a different team from what Buffalo last faced, with two notable recent additions in Tarasenko and Kane.
Honestly, it’s still mind-blowing to me that the Rangers were able to pull off getting both of them. That’s some dang salary cap magic, that’s what that is.
Tarasenko has put up nine points (4-5) in his first 13 games with the Rangers and has a total of 38 points in 51 games this season. Kane has two points (1-1) in three games as a Ranger and 47 points in 57 games overall this season.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that those two are going to be players to watch tonight - especially Kane, as he’ll undoubtedly have a good cheering section of friends and family in the crowd.
2. Top-Line Greenway
Jordan Greenway, the newest member of the Buffalo Sabres, has now skated in three games with the team. He’s been promoted to the top line with Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson, thanks in part to the absence of the injured Alex Tuch.
Greenway had his first goal as a Sabres in Thursday’s dreadful loss to the Dallas Stars - and it was his first goal since December 31. Let’s see if he remains on that top line and, if so, what that can do for his confidence and offensive production over time. Perhaps it’s just a case of needing some new scenery, or being surrounded by the right players. I’d like to hope Don Granato knows what’s he doing, especially when it comes to players he has a history with.
3. Breaking Out
The Sabres have struggled at home this year. They’ve also just generally struggled as of late, losing five of their last six games. We don’t need to rehash what happened at KBC on Thursday, but rest assured the players are going into Saturday’s game looking to put that behind them and show everyone what kind of a team they really are. A big statement win over a tough Rangers team on Saturday would instill some confidence in not just the players, but also the fans.
After Saturday’s game, the Sabres head out on a short three-game road trip, where they’ll face Toronto, Washington and Philadelphia before coming home for three straight.
Every game counts, and every game is critical in the playoff race. Following three straight losses, the Sabres need to get back on the winning side of the game before their playoff chances truly fall out of sight.
Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson - Jordan Greenway
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Tyson Jost - Victor Oloffson
Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin - Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Riley Stillman - Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Craig Anderson (likely), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Eric Comrie
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Vladimir Tarasenko
Artemi Panarin - Vincent Trocheck - Patrick Kane
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Jimmy Vesey - Barclay Goodrow - Tyler Motte
K’Andre Miller - Jacob Trouba
Niko Mikkola - Adam Fox
Ben Harpur - Braden Schneider
Goaltenders: Igor Shesterkin, Jaroslav Halak
Note: Tyler Motte is DTD.