Wings on the Menu for Halloween Matchup in Buffalo
Two of the league’s youngest rosters face off for the first time this season
Buffalo Sabres (5-3-0) vs. Detroit Red Wings (4-2-2)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Red Wings Blog: Winging It In Motown
Know Your Opponent
Detroit Red Wings
Last Game: 2-1 win vs Wild
Division Ranking: T-3rd in Atlantic Division
PP: 19.4% (20th)
PK: 84% (7th)
What to Watch
1. Thompson returning to form
Sabres fans were excited to hear the news back in August that management had signed Tage Thompson to a long-term contract, after his breakout season in 21-22. Through the first seven games this year, however, Thompson had managed to produce only 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) despite having quality scoring chances throughout each contest.
While fans were starting to get a little restless about his lack of production to start the season, TNT showed everyone Saturday night against the Blackhawks exactly why the Sabres felt comfortable offering him the contract they did. Not only did Thompson double his season point totals against Chicago with 2 goals and an assist, he did so with phenomenal work around the net. Thompson’s effort brought the Sabres within one and tied up the game in the later stages of the third, before assisting on the game winning overtime goal.
Judging off his performance from last year, TNT is absolutely a player who gains confidence from seeing the puck go in, so I expect him to feed off his performance on Saturday night and carry it over into tonight's game.
Tage Thompson bats home his second goal of the third period to tie it up at 3, beauty!#LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/4Xza6ofGco— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) October 30, 2022
2. Young Guns
While Buffalo has the youngest roster in the NHL at an average age of 25.56, Detriot is not far behind, coming in at the third youngest with an average age of 25.93. Both teams seem to be on similar trajectories, after going through a few rebuilding seasons the last couple of years.
It feels as if Dylan Larkin has been playing forever, but at only 26, he is still around his prime and Detroit has done a good job surrounding him with young talent. Last season the Red Wings had two outstanding rookies vying for the Calder in Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, with Seider ultimately winning it and Raymond coming in fourth. Both Seider (21) and Raymond (20) have the skill level to progress even more this year, especially with a full season under their belt.
Comparatively, Buffalo has a few rookies of their own this year that could make a Calder push themselves. Owen Power (20), Jack Quinn (21), and JJ Peterka (21) are all playing in their first full season with the Sabres and all had a reasonable chance to win the trophy as determined by betting sites at the beginning of the season, with Power and Peterka having the best chance currently out of the three Sabres.
3. Pucks to the Net
During the first six games of year, Buffalo was outshot in every one, even with the team going 4-2. While one may argue that it’s not the amount of shots a team gets, but rather the quality of those shots, being outshot game after game can still be a recipe for disaster. The last two games against Montreal and Chicago showed improvement for Buffalo, as they registered 45 shots on net in both games, forcing opposing goalies to have to be on their A game in order to win. Unfortunately for the Sabres, that was the case against the Canadiens, but the Blackhawks weren’t able to hold up Buffalo’s barrage for all three periods. If the Sabres can continue that trend and put up 40+ shots again tonight, I see no reason the NHL’s fifth best team in goals per game won’t give themselves a good chance to win, especially with Eric Comrie between the pipes.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Kyle Okposo
Jack Quinn - Casey Mittelstadt - Victor Olofsson
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Alex Tuch
Peyton Krebs - Rasmus Asplund - Zemgus Girgensons
Jacob Bryson - Rasmus Dahlin
Kale Clague - Owen Power
Lawrence Pilut - Casey Fitzgerald
Goaltenders: Eric Comrie (projected starter), Craig Anderson
Scratches: Vinnie Hinostroza
Injuries: Henri Jokiharju, Mattias Samuelsson, Ilya Lyubushkin
* With Lyubushkin out, the Sabres recalled Jeremy Davies from the Amerks.
Detroit Red Wings
Adam Erne - Dylan Larkin - Lucas Raymond
Dominik Kubalik - Andrew Copp - David Perron
Filip Zadina - Joe Veleno - Matt Luff
Elmer Soderblom - Pius Suter - Givani Smith
Ben Chiarot - Moritz Seider
Olli Maatta - Filip Hronek
Robert Hagg - Jordan Oesterle
Goaltenders: Alex Nedeljkovic (projected starter), Ville Husso
Scratches: Michael Rasmussen, Gustav Lindstrom
Injuries: Oskar Sundqvist