Buffalo sabers (6-15-4) vs. Pittsburgh penguins (16-9-1)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Penguins Blog: Pensburgh
Recording: 16-9-1 | 33 PTS
Last 10: 7-3-0
Division Ranking: 3rd in the East Division
PP: 23. (17.6%)
PK: 23. (74.4%)
1. You have to win at some point, right? … RIGHT?!?!
In a perverse and ironic hilarity, the Sabers are about to launch their second 10-game series in three years. Unlike the winning track they experienced in 2018/19, this time Buffalo will try to avoid a fall for ten consecutive laps.
In any other conceivable scenario, a sophomore coach would have been fired after such a long period of futility. Not in Buffalo. Here, we’ve just accepted the fact that the team’s nine-year playoff drought will last through 2021.
2. Lack of power play – Last seen on February 25th
It has been eight games since the Sabers’ once-leading man-advantage unit scored a goal. They currently haven’t implemented their last 13 power play opportunities.
Amazingly, thanks to their hot start, they still rank fifth in the NHL in terms of conversion rate. For a team that claims to be generating a five-on-five production based on their power play success (a quote from Ralph Krueger that still doesn’t make sense), they still need to find a way to regain their skills.
3. Thin mid spine
Since Jack Eichel and Dylan Cozens will be out for the foreseeable future, the Sabers in the middle are very thin. Tonight, Riley Sheahan is expected to take over top-line center duties between Taylor Hall and Sam Reinhart.
Eric Staal, Curtis Lazar and Cody Eakin will center the centerline two through four. Buckle up. This could get ugly quickly.
Taylor Hall – Riley Sheahan – Sam Reinhart
Victor Olofsson – Eric Staal – Tobias Rieder
Jeff Skinner – Curtis Lazar – Casey Mittelstadt
Days Thompson – Cody Eakin – Kyle Okposo
Matt Irwin – Rasmus Ristolainen
Jacob Bryson – Brandon Montour
Rasmus Dahlin – Colin Miller
Starting goalkeeper: Carter Hutton
Jake Güntzel – Sidney Crosby – Bryan Rust
Evan Rodrigues – Evgeni Malkin – Kasperi Kapanen
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueger – Brandon Tanev
Colton Sceviour – Mark Jankowski – Anthony Angello
Brian Dumoulin – Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson – John Marino
Mike Matheson – Cody Ceci
Starting goalkeeper: Casey DeSmith