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Morning Skate: Red Wings return to Buffalo to take on the Sabres

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We visited the Sabres earlier this month, so they are a familiar foe.  As you may recall, last time we met the Wings blew a lead (technically, two leads), before Tatar sealed the deal with a late third period goal to lift the Wings to a 4-3 victory.  We are in a bit of a slump right now, so this game feels like a big one.

Overall record:

59-53-13-2  (W-L-T-OL)

The good moment:

Back in 2012 the Wings were putting together what would become a historic string of home victories when they faced Buffalo to try and keep the streak alive at 15.  With Jimmy Howard commanding the net, the Red Wings cruised to a 5-0 victory.  Pavel Datsyuk earned his 700th career point with the help of three assists and even Drew Miller chipped in with an assist on Darren Helm's goal.  Drew's grandson, Ryan Miller, was pulled after allowing five goals on fourteen shots.

The bad moment:

Stop. Blowing. Third. Period. Leads.

So how about that offense?

The Sabres offense is lead by Ryan O'Reilly, and we'll need to keep a close eye on him tonight.  Rasmus Ristolainen and Jack Eichel have also proved dangerous, with Ristolainen chipping in with a lot of assists, a handful of goals, and a fun name to say.  The Sabres powerplay works 22.8% of the time, and our PK has been a bit shaky (Drew Miller truthers can have at it in the comments).

Our offense lately has been lackluster to say the least, we haven't been shutout, but we haven't been lighting the lamp much either.  When we do manage to get some shots off, those pucks seem to get blocked half the time and miss wide open nets the other half of the time. Larkin hasn't scored in quite some time, so look for him and his linemates to generate some offense for us.  Plus, I'm sure Mrazek would appreciate some goal support.

The Coaching match-up:

Jeff Blashill will be up against former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.  Blashill has been experimenting with the Jeff Blashill Bingo Wheel and shuffling up the lines and defensive pairings in hopes of making something good finally happen.  Disco Dan fact: He is the 12th most popular Virgo named Dan on the Famous Birthdays website.

Faces from the past:

Carlo Colaiacovo and David Legwand

Closing thoughts:

Games against the Sabres are often high scoring, so tonight could be the night we bust out and score 3+ goals.  The Sabres are not a good hockey team, but we find ways to make them look good too often.  To their credit, this Sabres team managed to beat the Capitals pretty thoroughly, so they do have their moments.  I'm not eager to see what kind of vitriol a third loss in a row will unleash, so let's not only win this game, but win it in regulation by a couple of goals and get these two points.  Skate, skate, skate...but don't forget to shoot too.

LET'S GO RED WINGS!

7:00p ET, First Niagra Center

Buffalo, NY

TV: MSG-B, BELL TV, FS-D

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Sabres Blog: Die By The Blade

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Game Day Prediction Contest

Would you like to predict the outcome of the game and potentially become internet famous? Well you're in luck, because here's your opportunity. Here's how it works.

Make your game predictions on the winning team, final score, and who the Wings player of the game will be. Enter the required information into the form below using the formats indicated in the questions. If you don't use those formats, your answers will be disregarded. All submissions are timestamped and will be accepted only until the official game start time. All other submissions after that will be disregarded. Only one submission per person, please. POTG will be determined by the collective of WiiM writers.

Each correct winning team prediction is worth 1 point. Each correct player of the game prediction is worth 2 points. Each correct final score prediction is worth 5 points. If you get all three correct you'll receive 15 points.