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Game #14 Preview: A Chance to Break .500

Sep 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game #14

Minnesota Wild (5-6-2) vs. Buffalo Sabres (6-6-1)

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo NY


Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent

Minnesota Wild

Record: 5-5-2 

Last Game: 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers

Division Ranking: 6th, Central

PP: 24th, 14.9%

PK: 28th, 65%

What to Watch

1. Taking Advantage On Special Teams 

The Sabres have a chance to get their powerplay running like it did last year, playing against one of the worst penalty kills of the season. With a 65% success rate on the penalty kill, there is plenty of opportunity to take advantage. While Buffalo’s powerplay has not been off to a hot start (24th in the NHL at 12.8%), there is no doubt that they have the skill to increase that success rate. 

While the Wild do not have a potent powerplay themselves, the Sabres must find a way to reduce the number of penalties taken. Ranked 2nd in the NHL for penalty minutes taken, the Sabres are averaging 10 minutes in the box per game, equivalent to 5 minor penalties per game. Even with an 88% success rate (ranked 5th in the NHL), the Sabres are costing themselves unnecessary defensive strain. With a goal scorer like Kaprisov in town, staying out of the box will play a substantive role in how the game goes for Buffalo. 

2. Saves Saves Saves 

The Sabres goalies have been a little bit all over the place to start the year. With injuries and an inconsistent rotation of play, it’s fair to say that the goalies have not been able to get into a consistent rhythm. But with Comrie out, UPL and Levi have an opportunity to settle into their crease for a little bit, rotating their starts. With a combined 0.892 Save Percentage between the two young goalies, there is no doubt that these numbers have to improve if the Sabres want a shot at staying competitive. 

Undoubtedly, the defensive core also plays a role in the performance of the Sabres netminders. The Sabres have allowed the 6th most medium-danger chances in the NHL with 90 chances against. Tightening up the D-zone will be instrumental for the young guns manning the crease to increase their confidence as the season progresses.

In relation to tonight’s game against the Wild, the starter will have a chance to snuff out a team that has gotten statistically quite lucky. They are currently ranked 4th in Goals For Above Expected (scoring 8.3 more goals than they have deserved). Hopefully, their luck starts to runs out, and the Sabres net begins to stabalize.

3. A chance to break .500 

With teams around them in the Atlantic struggling (the Canadiens falling to an expected level of play, the Red Wings cooling down after their hot start, the Senators struggling to stay consistent, and the Leafs with defensive collapses on multiple occasions), the Sabres have a chance to take advantage tonight and break .500, and hopefully stay there. With a win tonight, they can continue to climb and claw their way up the standings. 

Last year, the Sabres found themselves in a similar place in the standings. On November 10th, 2022, the Sabres had a record of 7-7-0. The following month, they went 5-7-2, putting themselves in a place of desperation to reach the playoffs. Tonight against the Wild, the Sabres have the opportunity to show that this year’s roster is different and better than their former selves. 

Projected Lineups 

Buffalo Sabres 


Skinner – Thompson – Tuch

Greenway – Mittelstadt – Peterka

Rousek – Krebs – Olofsson

Girgensons – Jost – Okposo


R. Johnson – Dahlin

Power – Jokiharju

Clifton – E.Johnson

Starter: Levi

Minnesota Wild 


Kaprisov – Rossi – Boldy

Johansson – Hartman – Zuccarello 

Foligno – Eriksson Ek – Maroon

Duhaime – Dewar – Letieri


Brodin – Faber

Middleton  –Mermis 

Hunt – Bogosian 

Starter: Gustavsson