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Sabres vs. Red Wings: Game Day Updates and Key Match Ups

The Red Wings have a favorable look at the already weary Sabres

Buffalo Sabres v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

We knew a callup would happen in case Daley can’t go tonight and the Wings announced it this morning.

The reason for Lashoff over Hicketts is that the team wants Trevor Daley to play but need to be prepared in case he can’t. There’s a real good chance the callup defenseman is going to spend tonight sitting. In the meantime, Grand Rapids also plays tonight. Either way, Joe Hicketts will be playing a hockey game this evening.

Otherwise, Danny DeKeyser is approaching a return but not ready yet and Darren Helm will be back. Here’s the lines they skated with this morning:

F1- Mantha-Zetterberg-Nyquist
F2- (tuna)Tatar-Larkin-Athanasiou
F3- Abdelkader-Nielsen-Glendening
F4- Booth-Helm-Wilson

D1- Ericsson-Daley
D2- Ouellet-Green
D3- Kronwall-Jensen

Starter- Howard
Back up- Mrazek

Sabres Projected Lineup

F1- Evander Kane-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart
F2-Benoit Pouliot-Ryan O’Rielly-Kyle Okposo
F3-Matt Moulson-Johan Larsson-Jason Pominville
F4-Jordan Nolan-Zemgus Girgensens-Seth Griffin

D1- Marco Scandella-Justin Falk
D2-Jake McCabe-Taylor Fedun
D3-Josh Gorges- Nate Beaulieu

Starter- Robin Lehner
Back up- Chad Johnson

Key Match Ups

Feed The Large Boy In Front

Mantha continues to tear through the league whether it be with his stick or fist. Last time these two teams played, Buffalo’s Robin Lehner pitched a shut out. With the Wings power play clicking and Mantha shooting at close range, it’s difficult to imagine Buffalo containing him two games in a row. Get pucks low, let Manthony set the traffic. The Sabres beat up defense will not be able to clear him out easy. I’m expecting another big night for Mantha.

Buffalo’s Defense is Served Mild

The Sabres struggles on defense have been compounded by injuries. For chunks of the season they’ve missed Zach Bogosian and youngster Rasmus Ristolainen who, on a given night, could be their top pairing. They only have wins in 2 of their last 8 games—though they’re coming off consecutive overtime loses. For a team that’s failed to put together two regulation wins in a row, it’s certainly an issue you can point to. However they’ve held the line regarding shots allowed where they’re middle of the pack. You can say the bigger issue is the team .890 save percentage. Clearly the Sabres are vulnerable to another high scoring performance from the Red Wings.

The Wings Seriously Have More Depth

My own damn cynicism kept me from acknowledging the Red Wings forward core had the potential to be much stronger this season. All any of us had to do was embrace the very real possibility Larkin would bounce back and Mantha and Athanasiou would continue to progress. Then you have Nyquist who was due for an improved year and Tatar who’s been a model of consistency through out his career. What does that give you? Two pretty strong scoring lines. Sure, no Stamkos or Tavares but it’s certainly better than what Buffalo’s produced to this point. On paper many figured the Sabres to be the better team. The Red Wings top six—well, five, with that sixth yet to really emerge, are stacking up well with most of the league. Players like Okposo and Reinhart are due to pick up their pace and O’Rielly has quietly been solid. Even if the Sabres scoring picks up can you imagine them besting the production you’ll see from the Wings top two lines. Combine this with Howard’s all-star caliber goaltending, I think you’re seeing the Wings as clearly better than the Sabres who were supposed to be their peer in the standings or even contend for a wild card. Just don’t see that turnaround yet from this bad Buffalo team.