Sabres Host Sharks in Their First Game Since New Year’s Day
<em>Buffalo Hopes to Recover After Latest Loss</em>
Buffalo Sabres (10-17-6) vs. San Jose Sharks (17-16-1)
Puck Drop: 7:00PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Sharks Blog: Fear the Fin
Know Your Opponent
San Jose Sharks
Last Game: 6-2 Loss to Detroit
Division Ranking: 6th in the Pacific Division
PP: 21st (17.9%)
PK: 6th (83.9%)
What to Watch
1. Can the Sabres Close Out a Game?
The Sabres have proven they know how to score goals this season, but far too often, Buffalo lets their opponents come back in the third period and beat them. Die by The Blade’s archives are littered with recap stories that highlight this weakness. Sabres Blow Lead is a headline we’ve seen way too much of lately.
Pundits have touted coach Don Granato’s discipline for the Buffalo Sabres playing better this season. That may be, but for some reason the team lets their guard down when they’re a few goals ahead and ends up losing another two points they could have had. Fans would like to see more of those fleeting glimpses of hockey greatness they’ve occasionally watched this year. The Sabres’ December win against the Minnesota Wild comes to mind.
2. How Will the Sabres’ Continuing COVID Woes Affect the Game?
Buffalo has suffered continuing COVID-19 setbacks over the past year. Last January and February, the virus decimated the team after the Sabres played two back-to-back games against the New Jersey Devils. This season, Don Granato, Zemgus Girgensons, Dylan Cozens, Jeff Skinner and Vinnie Hinostroza all missed games because of COVID protocols. Almost as soon those players returned, it seemed, Casey Fitzgerald, Kyle Okposo, Peyton Krebs, Alex Tuch and Anders Bjork were on the COVID list.
The Sabres need to take a page from the area’s other pro sports team, the Bills and have somebody step up and fill the role when players can’t play because of COVID. Good teams find a way to win. It’s past time for the Sabres to learn how to do that.
3. Red Wings Beat the Sharks, Sabres Could Do It Again
The San Jose Sharks are coming off a 6-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. In 21 games against the Sabres, San Jose has lost 14 of these matchups, so the Sabres have beaten the Sharks 2-1 on average. The Sabres haven’t prevailed in a contest against San Jose since Oct. 23, 2019, when Buffalo won 4-3.
The Buffalo Sabres have 11 games remaining in January and only three in February, unless the NHL adds some make up games that would have gone to the Olympics. Other teams have made January comebacks and there’s no reason the Sabres couldn’t do it, too.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Victor Olofsson
Rasmus Asplund - Dylan Cozens - Vinnie Hinostroza
Brett Murray - Mark Jankowski - Zemgus Girgensons
Drake Caggiula - Cody Eakin - John Hayden
Rasmus Dahlin - Henri Jokiharju
Will Butcher - Mark Pysyk
Ethan Prow - Colin Miller
Starting Goalie: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier – Tomas Hertl – Jonathan Dahlen
Alexander Barnabov – Nick Bonino – Noah Gregor
Matt Nieto – Scott Reedy – Jayden Halbgewachs
Jeffrey Viel – Jasper Weatherby – Andrew Coligano
Brent Burns – Jaycob Megna
Nicolas Meloche – Radim Simek
Erik Karlsson – Jacob Middleton
Starting Goalie: James Reimer