The Vancouver Canucks and Ryan Miller come to town tonight for a meeting with the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately for those hoping to get a look at the former Sabres goaltender, they won’t get that opportunity this evening. Miller will have the night off after playing in Boston last night, which takes a little bit of the excitement out of the game.
This will be the second and last meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Canucks won the first meeting 2-1 behind Jacob Markstrom who will start again tonight. The previous meeting back in the second week of the season, however, featured a Sabres team without Jack Eichel and Evander Kane who were both out with injuries. Also, Vancouver was in the middle of the impressive start to the season they put together.
Now, four months later, the two teams find themselves at almost the same spot in the NHL standings. After winning last night in Toronto, the Sabres have another great opportunity to legitimately climb into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. A win tonight puts them three points behind the last wild-card spot and four points behind the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division if they lose to the Canadiens tonight.
Vancouver finds themselves out of the picture in the Pacific Division sitting 12 points back of the Edmonton Oilers who sit in third place. They do have a chance at the wild card as they are six points behind the Nashville Predators going into action tonight. The Canucks are seeing their realistic chances of being a playoff team fade with each loss. After losing last night, the visitors should come out hungry to two points tonights.
Vancouver Canucks at Buffalo Sabres
Key Bank Center – 7:30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – MSG-B & SNP
2016-17 Season Series: Oct. 20th – Canucks 2, Sabres 1
Vancouver Canucks – 24-25-6 – 54 Points
Road Record: 7-17-3
Hot Players: Bo Horvat
Key Injuries: Derek Dorsett, Erik Gudbranson, Anton Rodin and Sven Baertschi
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Loui Eriksson
Markus Granlund – Brandon Sutter – Janik Hansen
Jayson Megna – Bo Horvat – Alexandre Burrows
Reid Boucher – Michael Chaput – Jack Skille
Alexander Edler – Troy Stetcher
Luca Sbisa – Chris Tanev
Nikita Tryamkin – Ben Hutton
* Lines subject to change
Buffalo Sabres – 23-22-10 – 56 Points
Home Record: 13-9-4
Hot Players: Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart
Key Injuries: Zach Bogosian, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Franson and Johan Larsson
Evander Kane – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Kyle Okposo – Ryan O’Reilly – Justin Bailey
Marcus Foligno – Evan Rodrigues – Brian Gionta
Tyler Ennis – Derek Grant – Matt Moulson
Rasmus Ristolainen – Jake McCabe
Dmitry Kulikov – Josh Gorges
Justin Falk – Taylor Fedun
** Lines subject to change.
1) The line of Evander Kane, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart had an excellent game last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The line had seven total combined points that included two goals from Kane and three assists from Eichel. Reinhart notched a goal and an assist of his own. The trio had success at the end of last season and have seemed to still have the chemistry that made them dangerous last season.
2) The Sabres will go back to Robin Lehner who has been on fire as of late, while the Canucks will counter with Jacob Markstrom. Lehner has only allowed more than two goals once in his past five starts and his .925 save percentage has him sixth amongst goaltenders with at least 20 games played. Markstrom enters tonight with better overall numbers on the road this season with a .920 save percentage and 2.48 goals against average.
3) Special teams will be a key to the game tonight with two clubs who could be tired after hard fought games last night. The Sabres come into the game with the best power play in the league. Canucks are ranked 27th in the league, but they’ve scored a goal with the man advantage in four straight games coming into tonight. Neither team is very good on the penalty kill as the Canucks rank 25th and the Sabres 29th.
4) Both clubs will play the second game of a back to back tonight. Sabres come into tonight with a 3-4-1 in the second game of back to back’s and the Canucks are 3-5-0 in the second game this season.
5) Vancouver has only won in Buffalo one time in their last five opportunities dating back to the 2008-09 season. The Canucks poor road record of 7-17-3 on the season and Sabres strong home performance over the last two months going 6-1-1 in their last eight, point to the home club having the upper hand tonight.