Sunday Night Hockey
Sabres face off against a struggling Sharks team and old friend Aaron Dell.
Buffalo Sabres (10-13-1) vs. San Jose Sharks (8-15-4)
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Sharks Blog: Fear The Fin
Know Your Opponent
San Jose Sharks
Last Game: 5-2 loss @ Senators
Division Ranking: 7th in Pacific Division
PP: 20% (24th)
PK: 88.2% (1st)
What to Watch
1. The Return of the Dell
Sabres fans know all too much about Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell, who will be making his second start of the season against his former club. In 12 games last year with Buffalo, Dell was 1-8-1, with a .893 save percentage and a 4.03 GAA, statistics that no hockey fan should be subjected to. That’s not all, however, as Dell also threw a hit during a game against Ottawa last year that injured Drake Batherson, which led to a 3 game suspension for the goalie.
After one of the worst seasons for a Buffalo goalie in recent memory (and that’s saying a lot), Sabres fans should be confident about the prospect of going against Dell this time, especially as the Sharks are on the second game of a back-to-back. San Jose has also only won twice in the past nine contests and is in the midst of a rebuild year, so the Sabres high-scoring offense should be able to create more than a fair share of opportunities.
How Many Goals Will Buffalo Score on Dell?
|2 or less||5|
|5 or more||28|
2. Skillful Swedes
While the Sharks and Sabres have gone through a fair share of struggles this season, both teams have had stellar play out of their top defensemen up to this point. Although almost 10 years apart in age, San Jose’s Erik Karlsson and Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin, who both hail from Sweden, play a very similar game and have been two of the NHL’s best players this season.
Karlsson leads the league in goals (11) and points (33) for a defenseman, while Dahlin is second and not far behind with 8 goals and 27 points in four less games. While both Karlsson and Dahlin are solid in the defensive zone, their talent and success are really prominent on offense, where they are terrific creating opportunities and space for both themselves and other teammates. As Dahlin plays a large role in offensive production, Karlsson is relied on even more to generate offense, so look for him to be a big factor in the game tonight.
3. Red & Black Part 2
After debuting the new red & black alternate jerseys against the Blues almost two weeks ago, the Sabres will wear them for a second time against the Sharks tonight. Buffalo had success in the goatheads the first time around, beating St. Louis handily 6-2, with Skinner and Quinn each scoring two goals. Luukkonen was also the goaltender for the first red & black jersey night, and will once again be in net tonight.
Jeff Skinner - Tage Thompson - Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka - Dylan Cozens - Jack Quinn
Casey Mittelstadt - Peyton Krebs - Victor Olofsson
Kyle Okposo - Tyson Jost - Zemgus Girgensons
Mattias Samuelsson - Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power - Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson - Casey Fitzgerald
Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (projected starter), Craig Anderson
Scratches: Vinnie Hinostroza, Lawrence Pilut, Rasmus Asplund
Injuries: Eric Comrie, Ilya Lyubushkin
San Jose Sharks
Timo Meier - Tomas Hertl - Kevin Labanc
Matt Nieto - Logan Couture - Alexander Barabanov
Noah Gregor - Nick Bonino - Luke Kunin
Jonah Gadjovich - Steven Lorentz - Oskar Lindblom
Jaycob Megna - Erik Karlsson
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Matt Benning
Radim Simek - Nick Cicek
Goaltenders: Aaron Dell (projected starter), Kaapo Kahkonen
Scratches: Evgeny Svechnikov, Mario Ferraro
Injuries: Markus Nutivaara, James Reimer, Nico Sturm