Preview: Okposo Faces Former Team as Sabres Host Isles

The Buffalo Sabres are coming off of an impressive team win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. They showed some resilience, a trait we haven’t seen very often this season.

Garth Snow New York Islanders
(THW file photo)

The scoring output also continues to increase since Jack Eichel has come back into the lineup. After scoring six against the Kings the other the night the Sabres are now at 3.28 goals per game over the last seven. Prior to Eichel’s return, they were scoring 1.85 goals per game.

The Islanders come in as the worst team in the Eastern Conference. The future of the franchise is in turmoil with regards to their head coach Jack Capuano. General Manager Garth Snow is also on the hot seat as his big two offseason acquisitions in Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have struggled. If the Islanders don’t turn things around in the near future we’re likely to see big changes to the club from Brooklyn.

Islanders come in as losers of three straight including a 5-4 loss at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks last night. Buffalo has an excellent opportunity to keep their winning ways going. They’re catching the Isles on the second game of back to back nights and they’re having a hard time figuring out a way to win. These are the types of games the Sabres need to pick up two points on, especially at home. The Islanders are the worst road team in the Eastern Conference with a 2-7-1 record on the road coming into tonight.

New York Islanders at Buffalo Sabres

Key Bank Center – 7 p.m. EST

Broadcast channels – MSG-B

2016-17 Season Series: First Matchup

New York Islanders – 11-13-5 – 27 Points

Road Record: 2-7-1

Hot Players: John Tavares and Anders Lee

Key Injuries: Mikhail Grabovski

Projected lines:


Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey

Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome

Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Andrew Ladd – Nick Quine – Jason Chimera


Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Hann – Dennis Seidenberg


Jaroslav Halak


Buffalo Sabres – 11-11-6 – 28 Points

Home Record: 6-6-3

Hot Players:  Rasmus Ristolainen, Jack Eichel and Kyle Okposo

Key Injuries: Zach Bogosian and Tyler Ennis

Projected lines:


Evander Kane – Jack Eichel – Kyle Okposo

William Carrier – Ryan O’Reilly – Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno – Johan Larsson – Brian Gionta

Nic Deslauriers – Zemgus Girgensons – Matt Moulson


Rasmus Ristolainen – Jake McCabe

Cody Franson – Dmitry Kulikov

Justin Falk – Josh Gorges


Robin Lehner

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Kyle Okposo will face his former team tonight for the first time since signing with the Sabres in the offseason. Okposo leads the Sabres with nine goals and 21 points in 27 games. Those numbers are better than the combined goals and points from the Islanders two big offseason pickups in Ladd and Chimera.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Rasmus Ristolainen continues to excel with the increase in ice time. The 22-year old defender enters tonight with 11 points in his last ten games and seven points in his last five.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] The Sabres are nearly back to full health. Both Zach Bogosian and Taylor Fedun appear ready to go. Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray will have decisions to make on who they want to keep in Buffalo and who will go back to Rochester of the American Hockey League.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] After a slow start, Islanders star center John Tavares has found his scoring touch again. He has points in nine of his last ten games and has scored a point in each of those ten games except two.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Robin Lehner is back in goal again for the Sabres. He finally picked up a win against the Kings on Tuesday. It wasn’t his best game, but picking up the win was huge as he only had one in his previous ten starts. Lehner will be an important part of this final eight-game stretch to end the month of December. He’ll likely appear in at least six of those eight games.

The mantra is going to stay the same for the duration of December. The Sabres need to pick up points to get back into the playoff race and capitalizing on games like tonight is another step in the right direction.

The Islanders are currently sitting behind the Sabres in the standings, but are struggling to find their way. Buffalo does not want to be the team that lets them off the mat. All the advantages are in the Sabres favor tonight. They’re playing on home ice and the Islanders are playing their third game in four nights, as well as the second of back to backs.