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Game #64: Sabres vs Predators Preview & Open Thread

Dec 3, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo (21) looks to control the puck during the third period against the Nashville Predators at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Game 64

Buffalo Sabres (29-29-5) vs. Nashville Predators (35-25-3)

Puck Drop: 8:00 PM EST, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN


Radio: WGR-550

Know Your Opponent 

Nashville Predators

Record: 35-25-3

Last Game: 4-3 OT Loss to the Montreal Canadiens 

Division Ranking: 4th, Central 

PP: 19.5%, 18th (Sabres 26th, 16.8%)

PK: 76.4%, 24th (Sabres 18th, 70.0%)

What To Watch For

1. Trade Deadline Looms

GMKA has already pulled the trigger once with Casey Mittelstadt shipped out. With a day or so left, who else could be moved out? At this point Buffalo are not looking for picks any more, and could get their arm twisted for a prospect or two, but it’s NHL-ready players that they are looking for.

Players that are comfortable playing the run-and-gun hockey, more specifically, that the Sabres have looked their best at. Adding a bit of beef in the forward and defense ranks wouldn’t hurt the Sabres who have been very easy to push off the puck the last few years.

Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons, Erik Johnson and Victor Olofsson have all traveled to Tennessee with the team, but there is no indication as yet if any of that quartet will return to Buffalo tonight. Will Adams pull another surprise out of his hat?  

2. Hello Old Friend!

The Preds top line is anchored by a name and face that is very familiar to Buffalo – Ryan O’Reilly. The center departed the Sabres in somewhat acrimonious circumstances after some comments he made about what he perceived as a losing culture in Buffalo, but the trade to the St Louis Blues went very well for him as he went on to lift the Stanley Cup while winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as well, beating the detested Boston Bruins to boot. That trade brought an assortment of players and picks to the Sabres, of which Tage Thompson and Ryan Johnson still remain with the team and are signed to long-term contracts.

Dec 3, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Nashville Predators center Ryan O’Reilly (90) during a stoppage in play against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

3. Will Byram Play Tonight?

The newest Sabre is unlikely to feature tonight in the Music City as he is still recovering from an illness. However, Don Granato has already indicated that he sees Bowen Byram as a top pair defenseman, and as such will feature with Rasmus Dahlin. Having two smooth-skating, offensive-minded defensemen on the ice at the same time could really pull some levers for the Sabres in terms of righting their goalscoring woes this season.

“It’s obviously a shock, but I’m excited for a new challenge and a new start somewhere. I’ve got lots of close friends on the team in Buffalo, so that should be fun.”

– Bowen Byram

Byram is close friends with at least two younger players on the Buffalo roster. The 22-year-old defenseman has known Peyton Krebs since they were 8, and things are looking up for the center. Not only does he get to be teammates with a close friend whose Stanley Cup-winning celebration he attended, but Mittelstadt’s departure opens up the center slot in the third line where he will have a chance to show that his recent performances were no flash in the pan.

Dylan Cozens is the other player he knows very well, with the pair being co-captains for Team Canada at the World Juniors. The Sabres forward was so excited to hear about Byram’s arrival yesterday afternoon that he couldn’t settle back to sleep for his pre-game nap once he’d heard the news.

Projected Lineups

Buffalo Sabres


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


Rasmus Dahlin – Henri Jokiharju 
Owen Power – Jacob Bryson 
Ryan Johnson –  Connor Clifton

Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Eric Comrie

(No morning skate, Granato presser at 6:30 ET)

Nashville Predators


Filip Forsberg – Ryan O’Reilly – Gustav Nyquist
Yakov Trenin – Colton Sissons – Cody Glass
Mark Jankowski – Tommy Novak – Luke Evangelista
Cole Smith – Michael McCarron – Kiefer Sherwood


Roman Josi – Dante Fabbro
Ryan McDonagh – Luke Schenn
Jeremy Lauzon – Alexandre Carrier 

Goaltenders: Juuse Saros, Kevin Lankinen

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