The Buffalo Sabres are looking to keep pace in the playoff race and it will be a busy week for them. The Sabres play four games in seven days with the first three games being on the road. They will end the week at home on Saturday night.

1) Sunday, Feb. 17 @ Devils- 6 p.m. ET

The Sabres start the week off with a test against the New Jersey Devils. The two teams are similar in that the top two lines produce most of their points but the Sabres take the goaltending advantage with Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark having better numbers than Keith Kinkaid and Corey Schneider. The special teams numbers are similar but the Sabres are a tad better at even strength.

The Sabres Will Win If…

They don’t overlook the opposition since the Devils have struggled this season without Taylor Hall. The Sabres want to look as this game as an important one since there are teams behind them gaining some ground in the playoff race. The Sabres need to come out and play this game like their playoff lives depended on it because they very well could.

Matchup of the Game

The goaltending will be important to this game. Yes, the Devils have struggled to score at times this season, but Kyle Palmieri has still managed to find the back of the net 25 times this year. The Devils have had a hard time finding the back of the net but it hasn’t been for lack of chances or shots since the team averages 32.5 shots per game played. The Sabres, especially Jeff Skinner, have been finding the back of the net with regularity this season so the Devils’ starting goalie is going to need to make some saves.

Game Prediction

The Sabres are going to win this game by a final score of 3-1. The Sabres goals will come from Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo and Jason Pominville. The Devils lone goal scorer will be Nico Hischier. The Sabres manage to pick up an important two points in this game.

2) Tuesday, Feb. 19 @ Panthers- 7 p.m. ET

The Florida Panthers and Sabres matchup pretty well. The teams get a majority of their offense from the top six forwards and two defensemen. The Panthers have the advantage on special teams, while the Sabres have the goaltending advantage. The teams have speed, which they will look to use often.

The Sabres Will Win If…

They can manage to play a disciplined game and shut down the top two lines of the Panthers. The Panthers have a power play that is ranked third overall in the NHL (25.8%) so it will be a good idea for the Sabres to just skate with them and avoid taking too many penalties. The Panthers top six have combined for 245 points so the Sabres want to get a forecheck established early to keep the Panthers defending instead of on the attack in the offensive zone. The Sabres should avoid turnovers when the top six are on the ice for the opposition.

Matchup of the Game

It will be interesting to see which line matches up against the leading scorers of each team. Jeff Skinner has 36 goals on the season and will look to keep it going so he can cash in on the free agent market come summer. Mike Hoffman, who was acquired last summer, leads the Panthers with 26 goals. Hoffman has been a good pickup for the Panthers and has added instant offense. The Panthers will need to find a way to stop a red hot Skinner, who has five goals in his last five games played.

Game Prediction

The Panthers will take this game 4-3 in regulation. This is usually about the time the Panthers start to make their run toward playoff positioning and that will happen again this season. Mike Hoffman will score two goals with Vincent Trocheck and Frank Vatrano contributing the other two goals.

3) Thursday, Feb. 21 @ Lightning- 7:30 p.m. ET

The Sabres are going to need to dig deep to come up with the two points in this game. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been almost unstoppable this season and are the best team in the NHL. The Lightning have a balanced lineup and can beat you with speed or they can play a gritty game. The Sabres just don’t matchup well against the Bolts at all but they have beat them in regulation once this season.

The Sabres Will Win If…

They play a consistently clean game for 60 minutes. The Sabres need to limit their mistakes because the Bolts will make you pay should you turn the puck over. The Lightning have the best power play in the League so the Sabres should play a disciplined game and try not to make it a habit of going to the penalty box. The Sabres should find a way to establish a good forecheck and cycle game to spend some time in the offensive zone.

Matchup of the Game

These teams do have some defensemen who can move the puck up the ice and contribute some goals and points. Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh have combined for 66 points from the blueline for the Lightning. The Sabres have two of their own defensemen who can pile up some points in Rasmus Ristolainen and Rasmus Dahlin, who have a combined 68 points. These four defensemen could play an important role in this game both offensively and defensively.

Game Prediction

The Sabres will not find a way to get another two points and they will lose 4-2 in regulation. The Lightning goals will be scored by Brayden Point, Victor Hedman, Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn. Jeff Skinner manages to find the back of the net twice for the Sabres.

4) Saturday, Feb. 23 vs. Capitals- 1 p.m. ET -NHLN

The Sabres will take on the Washington Capitals in a nationally televised game. The Capitals have a deeper and more balanced lineup than the Sabres. They are also more physical which could result in the Sabres turning the puck over more than they would like. The goaltending advantage goes to the Capitals, but the Sabres could take advantage while on the man advantage.

The Sabres Win If…

They establish a forecheck early and keep it going throughout the game. The cycle and forechecking game for the Sabres will keep the Capitals defending and not on the attack. The Sabres need to get plenty of shots on net with traffic in front of the goalie. The Sabres will need to have an outstanding effort from the starting goalie because the Capitals can and will find a way to get chances.

Matchup of the Game

The Sabres power play needs to find a way to get some goals against a not-so-good penalty kill of the Capitals. The Capitals penalty kill is ranked 22nd in the League (78.7%) but they are slightly better on the road at 79.6%. The Sabres need to get setup with plenty of traffic in front and if the shot is there on the power play then just take it. They’ll need quick puck and player movement without hesitating if something is open, just make the play.

Game Prediction

The Sabres will end the week with a three game losing streak after falling to the Capitals 3-1. Sam Reinhart will score the Sabres goal. Alex Ovechkin has an even strength and power play goal for the Caps with T.J. Oshie sealing the deal with the other goal for the Capitals.

Sabres Slashes Weekly Prediction

The Sabres will finish off a tough week by going 1-3-0 and losing some ground in the playoff race. Their one win comes against a team who could be competing for a chance at the number one overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.