The Buffalo Sabres will start the week off on the road and return home to face the defending champions. They will take on the St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins this week. All three teams made the playoffs last year, but the Blues are struggling early on.
The Sabres will visit Scottrade Center on Tuesday night. Buffalo will need to somehow find a way to score some goals. They are really struggling in the scoring department, but luckily for them the goalie, Robin Lehner, has been excellent. He is making the routine saves and even highlight reel type saves that leave one puzzled as to how the save was even made. Buffalo will want to get the first goal and take the home crowd out of the game. The Sabres just need to keep coming even if they get down since they have come back a few times this year. Buffalo is really missing center Jack Eichel and someone will really need to step up like Kyle Okposo or Sam Reinhart.
The Blues haven’t exactly been lightning up the score sheet themselves in the early going. St. Louis could try to get a struggling home power play going since they only have three power play goals in 31 opportunities. The Blues need to come out with some energy and get the first goal to keep the crowd into the game. The team will need to get off to a good start, and play a full 60 minute game.
On Thursday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Sabres. Buffalo will need to stay out of the penalty box since the Bolts power play is a good one. They will need to play a tight checking game and take away any time and space from Tampa Bay players to create chances. Buffalo will need play in its offensive zone and get off to a good start since that is one way to defend against the balanced attack of the Bolts. The Sabres need to get the first goal and build on the momentum, and the team will also need the goalie whether its Lehner or Anders Nilsson to step up and make some big saves.
The Lightning will need to bring that balanced attack and win the game at even strength since the Sabres do have decent special teams numbers. The goalie, either Andrei Vasilevskiy or Ben Bishop, need to come up big and make some mistakes since the Bolts will allow some chances against. Tampa Bay need to play a full 60-minute game and avoid the lulls where the opposing team just seems to take over the game, and its all on the goaltender to win the game for them. The Bolts need to not overlook the Sabres because it won’t be an easy game since Buffalo won’t come out and just roll over.
The defending champions, Penguins, come to town on Saturday to face-off against the Sabres. The Sabres will need a good effort from the goaltending to just keep this game close. Buffalo needs to shutdown the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, and stay out of the penalty box. They will also need to get the first goal of the game and play tight defense and smart hockey for a full 60 minutes.
The Penguins will need to work on the power play while away from home since it is only operating at 10.5% early in the season. Pittsburgh will need to keep an eye on Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly since that is where most of the Sabres offense has been coming from with Eichel out of the lineup with a high ankle sprain. The Pens will need to bring that balanced attack and have all the lines rolling. The team will also need to keep an eye out for Rasmus Ristolainen, who can act as a fourth forward on the ice at times.