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Game 55 Preview & Open Thread: Sabres vs. Ducks

Jan 23, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique (14) shoots the puck against Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) in the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Game #55

Buffalo Sabres (24-26-4) vs. Anaheim Ducks (19-33-2)

Puck Drop: 12:30 PM EST, KeyBank Center, Buffalo NY


Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent

Anaheim Ducks

Record: 19-33-2

Last Game: 9-2 loss against Toronto Maple Leafs

Division Ranking: 7th in the Pacific Division

PP Ranking: 19th (19.9%) [Sabres 28th, 14.1%]

PK Ranking: 25th (76.5%) [Sabres 17th, 79.6%]

What to Watch

1) Alienating the Home Crowd?!

The Sabres home record has been pretty poor, and a big reason why they will not be making the postseason festivities. At 12-15-1, they’re only 27th best in the league. The home fans have been quick to jump on the players when they make minor mistakes, and in turn the players have also been more nervous at home too.

However, a piece from Mike Harrington yesterday that seemed to indicate that the players are starting to shun the few brave souls that do regularly make it to home games will rub many the wrong way. Fans were very vocal in their criticism of Don Granato – deservedly so, in my opinion – and it seems the team has closed ranks around their coach, much like the Buffalo Bills did earlier this season too when a hit-piece on coach Sean McDermott blanketed Western New York like one of those winter squalls.

It’s a daytime puck drop on a school holiday against a Western Conference opponent, so it will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to the players, and vice versa. If they give up their obligatory first goal in the first period things might get ugly. Especially against an opponent that put a pin the Sabres’ balloon less than a month ago when it was looking like Buffalo might yet mount a late charge for the playoffs. More on that below.

2) Boom or Bust Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks are having an odd season. Make no mistake, they are a bad hockey team that is floundering about rudderless in this competitive hockey sea. Their recent results promise some sort of goal festival in downtown Buffalo this afternoon – a 5-1 hammering of the Senators sandwiched by a 9-2 shellacking at the hands of the Maple Leafs and a 5-0 beating by the Canadiens.

Whether the Ducks focus on showcasing some trade targets with about three weeks left until the trade deadline, or actually play some cohesive hockey, Buffalo needs to take care of their own business and not play down to a Ducks side that has shown they can score in bunches.

3) In the Shop Window

The Sabres have some names that continue to get bandied about as the trade deadline looms and some teams will get more desperate. It is going to be interesting to see what kind of returns General Manager Kevyn Adams is looking to get back. Buffalo does not need any more picks or prospects. They do need players that can contribute now, and in a big way. Conversely, which playoff contender looking to beef up their roster will give up a player of that nature?

This season’s scoring leader Casey Mittelstadt is likely the biggest prize if Adams ends up choosing to part ways with him, but what could he realistically net in return? Victor Olofsson and Erik Johnson will garner trade fodder, while veterans Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons could get back something of value too.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
Jordan Greenway – Casey Mittelstadt – Dylan Cozens
Zach Benson – Peyton Krebs – JJ Peterka
Eric Robinson – Zemgus Girgensons – Kyle Okposo


Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Connor Clifton
Ryan Johnson – Erik Johnson


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (likely starter), Eric Comrie

11 AM update: The Sabres have recalled goaltender Dustin Tokarski, along with defenseman Kale Clague, from Rochester. Head coach Don Granato will speak shortly, so we’ll know more then about what this means for either UPL or Comrie.

Anaheim Ducks


Adam Henrique – Leo Carlsson – Ryan Strome
Frank Vatrano – Mason McTavish – Troy Terry
Alex Killorn – Isac Lundestrom – Jakob Silfverberg
Max Jones – Sam Carrick – Ross Johnston


Gustav Lindstrom – Cam Fowler
Urho Vaakanainen – Radko Gudas
Pavel Mintyukov – Ilya Lyubushkin


John Gibson, Lukas Dostal

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