Buffalo Motors to Detroit, Needing a Bounce Back Win to Stay Alive

Buffalo Motors to Detroit, Needing a Bounce Back Win to Stay Alive

Game 77

Buffalo Sabres (37-32-7) vs. Detroit Red Wings (35-33-9)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | Little Caesars Arena | Detroit, MI


Radio: WGR 550

Know Your Opponent

Detroit Red Wings

Record: (35-33-9)

Last Game: 5-0 win @ Canadiens

Division Ranking: 7th in Atlantic Division

PP: 21.3% (16th)

PK: 78.8% (17th)

What to Watch

1. Not Over Yet

While the loss to Florida on Tuesday night was a huge blow to the Sabres' playoff aspirations, they are not mathematically eliminated yet, and could still sneak in as the season comes to a close. Of course, they would have to win the majority of their last six games (four at the very least), as well as get loads of help from the teams playing the Panthers, Islanders and Penguins over each of their last four games.

Although it can be easy to get caught up in the "what ifs", along with different playoff scenarios, the Sabres need to just focus on the Red Wings and take it a game at a time. We've seen that pressure can affect a young Buffalo team that relies on momentum and confidence to reach their full potential each game, so letting a tough loss to the Panthers affect them would only set the group back further.

Even as Detroit is also sitting outside of a playoff spot at 79 points, they too will be looking at this game as a "must win". With a loss, the Red Wings would be all but eliminated, so Buffalo can't afford to take them lightly, especially as they have won their last two games by a combined score of 10-2.

2. Play Smarter

One of the bigger issues the Sabres have faced all season long is undisciplined play, allowing their opponent to hang around in games. This problem showed up against the Panthers, as Buffalo took three penalties in the first 15 minutes of game time, eventually surrendering the tying goal. Turnovers and a late penalty in the third period ultimately doomed the Sabres, which cost them in an important game, one that they could've won.

A big point of emphasis for Buffalo against Detroit is to not take unnecessary penalties, while also playing smarter and with more of an "attack" sense on special teams. On both the powerplay and penalty kill, the Sabres will take a more passive approach, either looking for a perfect shot or with too little aggression. As the Red Wings have both an average powerplay and penalty kill, Buffalo needs to capitalize on the opportunity to let their special teams go to work and build on their confidence, by utilizing a more aggressive approach to both units.

The Sabres also need to cut down on the turnovers in both the offensive and defensive zones, as they have led to numerous breakaways, odd man rushes and quick chances for opponents over the last few weeks. If Buffalo can learn from the Panthers game and play with a smarter, less undisciplined approach against the Red Wings, they should set themselves up for success.

3. By the Numbers

Statistically, Detroit has been a slightly better team defensively and has gotten a bit more consistent goaltending than Buffalo, led by Ville Husso. Husso, who was impressive against the Canadiens in the Red Wings 5-0 win on Tuesday night, has four shutouts on the year, tied for second in the NHL.

Offensively however, the Sabres have scored 40 more goals than the Wings in less games played, which is quite noticeable on the stat sheet. Detroit only has one 30 goal scorer, Dylan Larkin, while Buffalo has three (Thompson, Skinner and Tuch) with a fourth knocking on the door (Cozens, 29). The Sabres also have five players with 60 points or more compared to the Wings, who still just have a single representative in that category (Larkin, again).

In three previous matchups this season, the Sabres are 3-0 against the Red Wings with a combined score of 19-10. Buffalo has also had two hat tricks against Detroit this season, courtesy of Tage Thompson and Kyle Okposo.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Jeff Skinner - Casey Mittelstadt - Alex Tuch

JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn

Jordan Greenway - Tyson Jost - Victor Olofsson

Zemgus Girgensons - Peyton Krebs - Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin - Mattias Samuelsson

Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju

Riley Stillman - Ilya Lyubushkin

Goaltenders: Devon Levi (projected starter), Eric Comrie

Scratches: Vinnie Hinostroza, Kale Clague, Jacob Bryson, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Craig Anderson

Injuries: Tage Thompson

Detroit Red Wings


Dominik Kubalik - Dylan Larkin - David Perron

Pius Suter - Andrew Copp - Lucas Raymond

Adam Erne - Joe Veleno - Alex Chaisson

Jonatan Berggren - Austin Czarnik - Matt Luff


Jake Walman - Moritz Seider

Simon Edvinsson - Ben Chiarot

Olli Maatta - Jordan Oesterle

Goaltenders: Ville Husso (projected starter), Magnus Hellburg

Scratches: Robert Hagg, Gustav Lindstrom

Injuries: Robby Fabbri, Marco Kasper, Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen