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Belated Blackhawks Battle

Jan 13, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #45

Chicago Blackhawks (13-29-2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (19-21-4)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM | Key Bank Center | Buffalo, NY


Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent

Chicago Blackhawks

Record: 13-29-2 | 28 PTS

Division Ranking: Last in the Central Division

Last Game: 2-1 win vs. Sharks (SO)

PP: 31st (13.1%)

PK: 27th (75.7%)

What to Watch

1. Quick Start

The Sabres have struggled to start games strong this year. They will have every opportunity to change that in this matchup. The Blackhawks are coming to town with only 2 wins out of 8 games in 2024. The snowstorm might have saved them from a back-to-back situation, but Buffalo should still come out flying to take the struggling Chicago squad out early.

If they don’t, this will be a much tougher game than it should be. Frustration can build the longer a team like Chicago hangs around. With an extra day to prepare, there should be no excuse for a lackluster opening period.

2. Stat Night

Early against San Jose, Don Granato abandoned his attempt at loading up the top line by moving Zach Benson with Tage Thompson/Alex Tuch and Casey Mittelstadt between Jordan Greenway/Eric Robinson. This helped even out the offense but, as with many games this season, whatever line Mittelstadt was on was the primary offensive driver.

Particularly against a weak team like Chicago, Buffalo should have contributors across the lineup. Each of their lines has an opportunity to step up but keep an eye out for the Dylan Cozens line to utilize their superior offensive skill against a weak Chicago defense. This is a perfect opportunity for certain players to light up the stat sheet. Even if it’s only for a night.

3. Must Win

The Sabres must win this game. Unless the hockey gods decide to intervene, there is no excuse on Earth that would validate a loss to these Blackhawks. They are the 2nd worst team in the league and are without their rookie phenom Connor Bedard. They are also without Taylor Hall, Andreas Athanasiou, Tyler Johnson, Nick Foligno, and Anthony Beauvillier.

They were on the lower end of talented rosters to start the season and it’s only gotten worse. A dominant win against an inferior opponent could boost the Sabres’ confidence heading into a tough matchup against division rival Tampa Bay. This cannot be another home ice letdown against a talent deficient roster.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Zach Benson – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch

JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn

Jordan Greenway – Casey Mittelstadt – Eric Robinson

Zemgus Girgensons – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju

Owen Power – Erik Johnson

Ryan Johnson – Connor Clifton


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (confirmed starter), Devon Levi

Chicago Blackhawks


Rem Pitlick – Philipp Kurashev – Taylor Raddysh

Colin Blackwell – Jason Dickinson – Joey Anderson

Lukas Reichel – Mackenzie Entwistle – Cole Guttman

Boris Katchouk- Zach Sanford – Ryan Donato


Alex Vlasic – Seth Jones

Jarred Tinordi – Jaycob Megna

Kevin Korchinski – Isaak Phillips


Petr Mrazek (likely starter), Arvid Soderblom

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Talking Points