Preview: Sabres host Bruins in third of five-game homestand
Buffalo looks for two more points at home after Sunday’s big victory
Buffalo Sabres (12-26-7) vs. Boston Bruins (25-12-6)
Puck Drop: 6:30 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Bruins Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder
Know Your Opponent
Division Ranking: 4th in East Division
PP: 22% (10th)
PK: 85.7% (1st)
What to Watch
1. Mitts and Sam, Comin’ in Hot
It is no secret that the Sabres are maybe actually...good? If not good, they are at least drastically better (and more fun to watch) since Don Granato took over as interim head coach. One of the many players that have improved is Sam Reinhart, whose experience on the team may finally be an advantage rather than a soul-crushing disadvantage. Sunday marked his fourth multi-goal game this season and he is likely to surpass 20 goals total for the fourth season in a row. Granato’s plan is to keep him at center - a decision that should have been made a long time ago (thanks for nothing, Ralph).
Casey Mittelstadt is another hot player to watch these days with an impressive turnaround this season. He has 10 points in his last 11 games and has been a difference-maker on faceoffs, winning 15 out of 21 on Sunday. Granato has said, of Mittelstadt, that he plans to gradually put him in more “challenging” situations on the ice, noting that he has put in the time and effort to handle this.
2. Tokarski, The Star?
After an impressive showing against the Penguins this past weekend, goaltender Dustin Tokarski has been named “First Star of the Week” by the NHL. He has a 2-1-1 record over the past week with 128 saves on 137 shots and a 2.27 average GA. Tokarski shares the NHL honor with frontline worker and former Roswell patient Michaela Pastorius. Assuming he gets the nod to play tonight, Tokarski should be another fun one to watch.
Granato did say Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will back up Tokarski tonight and may start in one of the Boston matchups this week. Stay tuned!
3. Drake In, Cody Out
Buffalo’s first transaction during trade deadline season was acquiring Drake Caggiula from the Arizona Coyotes. While he has struggled out west this season, Granato integrated him into the morning practice and plans to make him part of the lineup tonight. With Caggiula on the Rieder/Sheahan line, Cody Eakin will be scratched.
Jeff Skinner - Sam Reinhart - Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Asplund - Casey Mittelstadt - Tage Thompson
Anders Bjork - Dylan Cozens - Arttu Ruotsalainen
Tobias Rieder - Riley Sheahan - Drake Caggiula
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Ristolainen
Jacob Bryson - Colin Miller
Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju
Starting Goaltender: Dustin Tokarski
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall - David Krejci - Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie - Charlie Coyle - Jake DeBrusk
Sean Kuraly - Curtis Lazar - Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk** - Charlie McAvoy
Mike Reilly - Connor Clifton
Jeremy Lauzon - Steven Kampfer
*Jarred Tinordi left the ice after a bloody hit against the Capitals on Sunday afternoon and is a question mark for tonight.
**Matt Grzelcyk was practicing today and may return to the blue line for Boston after missing several games with an upper-body injury.
Starting Goaltender: Tuukka Rask