Sabres at Panthers Preview: Sean Malone's NHL Debut

Another youngster makes their first start as the Sabres face the Panthers in the penultimate game of the season.

Game #81

Buffalo Sabres (33-35-12) at Florida Panthers (33-36-11)

Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. EST | BB&T Center | Sunrise, FL

TV: MSG, FS-F, | Radio: WGR 550

SB Nation’s Panthers Blog: Litter Box Cats

Two Questions

1. How will Sean Malone look in his NHL debut?

Drafted in Round Six of the 2013 NHL draft, Sean Malone makes his NHL debut tonight after playing for four years at Harvard. This season, Malone averaged over a point per game in the NCAA with 42 points in 36 games. He's a West Seneca native who will be centering Zemgus Girgensons and Nic Deslauriers.

Malone's skill set likely pins him to a bottom-six, penalty killing role, but he does have some offensive punch to his game, as evidenced by his production at Harvard this year. He isn't exactly getting the best linemates to help him show his skills, but I'm sure Malone doesn't care who he's playing with, only where he's playing, and tonight that's in the NHL.

2. Will either of these teams show any end-of-the-year fatigue?

The Sabres and Panthers are two of the NHL's more disappointing teams this season, and both are firmly out of the playoff race with similar records. Especially considering how sparsely attended most Panthers games are, we could be in for a real snoozer if these two squads are just playing out the string. Conversely, we could end up with a fun, open-ended contest with both teams saying, "Screw it", and freewheeling their way to a fun game. Hope for the latter.

Projected Buffalo Lines

9 Evander Kane -- 90 Ryan O'Reilly -- 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson -- 15 Jack Eichel -- 23 Sam Reinhart
63 Tyler Ennis-- 71 Evan Rodrigues -- 70 Alexander Nylander
28 Zemgus Girgensons -- 42 Sean Malone -- 44 Nicolas Deslauriers

77 Dmitry Kulikov 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
41 Justin Falk -- 47 Zach Bogosian
4 Josh Gorges -- 6 Cody Franson

Goal: 40 Robin Lehner