Tonight the Sabres, fresh off a four-day break, will be waiting for the Flyers to arrive home from playing the Habs last night. The Flyers need to get off to better starts to games and maybe even score a first period goal since they have only done that once this year. If they can shut down the first two lines of the Sabres then they will have a good chance at winning the game. Philadelphia needs to get pucks towards the net because this will be Anders Nilsson’s first start of the season since Robin Lehner is out with an illness. The Orange and Black will also need to keep an eye on defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who will jump into the play offensively.
Buffalo needs to come out with energy in the first period and maybe play physical since the Flyers are coming off a loss the night before. The Sabres will need to keep an eye on Philadelphia’s second line of Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier, and Jake Voracek, which has been the best line so far for the Flyers. Philadelphia doesn’t have the best penalty kill so the Sabres should take advantage of power plays. The biggest question for Buffalo is: will the change from wing to center get Sam Reinhart and his line going offensively?
The Minnesota Wild come to town on Thursday night to face the Sabres. The Wild will need to keep an eye on Ristolainen and be aware of where he is while on the ice. Minnesota needs to get the first goal to take the home crowd out of the game early and then build on the lead from there. The Wild need to take advantage of chances and also be better in the defensive zone to avoid giving up as many goals as they have so far this season.
The Sabres will again be facing a pretty balanced lineup so if they can keep Ryan Suter and Zach Parise to minimal production then they have a shot at winning the game. They’ll need to get shots to the net and use their speed to create, and have guys jump into, plays. Buffalo needs to take chances and be aggressive in the offensive zone since they are basically a two-line team with one defenseman pitching in on the scoring too.
On Saturday night, the Florida Panthers will visit Buffalo in an Atlantic Division showdown. The Panthers need to get their power play going as they have struggled early on in the season. They’ll need to get pucks to the net and get a forechecking game established to force turnovers and create scoring chances.
Buffalo will need to win the battle at even strength since the Panthers haven’t been giving much up while down a man. The Panthers have a pretty balanced scoring attack so the Sabres need to be smart with and without the puck. Buffalo will also need to keep the damage done by the top line of Florida to a minimum if they want a shot at winning the game. The Sabres will also need to be patient with the puck to create some chances.