Share this article

print logo

Sabres game day: Power play adjusting without Rasmus Dahlin

Matchup: Buffalo Sabres (12-10-4) vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (12-11-4)

Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto.

When: 7 p.m.


Radio: WGR 550.

Power-play woes: The Sabres are in a 1-for-35 slump on the power play after failing to score on their two opportunities Friday night. Rasmus Ristolainen and Marcus Johansson have been used on the top unit with Rasmus Dahlin out the past two games.

Additionally, Victor Olofsson was not used in the right-wing circle against the Leafs. Instead, Olofsson was positioned in the slot with Johansson in the right circle. The result was only two shots on goal in two power plays.

Losing Dahlin was another blow to the Sabres' power play. His seven points on the man advantage rank third on the team, and he ranks second behind Jack Eichel with 15 assists this season.

Coach Ralph Krueger has used video study and personnel changes to try to spark his special teams. While the penalty kill is 6-for-6 over the past two games, the power play continues to struggle.

"We just need to stick with it," Krueger said of the power play. "We find there are scoring chances there and there is opportunity there. The momentum has been extremely negative for the power play and as with other components when they’re not working, we stay on the topic. We’re looking at video, we’re looking at changing personnel here and there. I think with Dahlin out it’s definitely changed the PP look and we need to adapt to that. I feel it’s very due for a goal tonight."

Sabres' lineup: Krueger will not reveal his lineup until shortly before puck drop. The Sabres will either use six defensemen with 12 forwards or seven defensemen with 11 forwards.

The Sabres used the latter Friday against the Leafs, as forwards Curtis Lazar and Jean-Sebastien Dea were scratched. Defenseman Colin Miller returned to the lineup after playing only twice in the previous eight games.

"I’ve actually always liked it as a coach," Krueger said of dressing seven defensemen. "I've used it lots of times in the past and it gives you options to really mix different guys into the lineup. You see the top-end guys don’t get extra ice time actually out of it. It’s more of a sharing of guys that sometimes don’t get the minutes, and I think they’re more into the game when they do that. For the D, when you’re playing the pace we are right now against the level of teams we’re playing right now, they have more energy for their battles when you play with seven. It’s also difficult for the opposition to read or react to your lineup."

Here's how the Sabres lined up Friday against Toronto:

Goalie change: Carter Hutton will start in goal for only the third time in nine games. The 33-year-old is 0-5-2 with a .869 save percentage in his past seven starts, though he has not received much help from his defense.

Hutton is 3-1 with a .916 save percentage in five career games against the Leafs.

Streaking: Jimmy Vesey has scored in each of the past three games after enduring a 20-game goalless drought to start the season. The 26-year-old has also contributed on the Sabres' penalty kill and his 20 shots on goal over the past eight games rank fifth on the team.

"To be honest, even when I didn't have a goal I thought I was playing some good games right before I finally scored," Vesey said. "It's a funky game sometimes. I guess the percentages were bound to change. I saw that I scored the first one on my 30th shot of the year. That's not good, but you have to think that's not going to last."

Leafs' lineup: Toronto is expected to start Frederik Andersen in goal. Andersen is 10-3 with a .919 save percentage in 14 career games against the Sabres. Additionally, Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot is eligible to return from a two-game suspension.

Kerfoot has five goals among eight points in 22 games this season. He was suspended for a hit on his former teammate, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson. Toronto did not hold a morning skate Saturday, but here is how it lined up Friday in KeyBank Center:

Rivalry: Eichel has 19 points in 14 career games against Toronto, including eight in seven road games. His 1.36 points per game against the Leafs are his second-best career output against any NHL team, trailing only his 1.64 points per game against the Ottawa Senators.

Eichel has scored more goals against Toronto (12) than any other opponent. The 23-year-old entered Saturday on an eight-game point streak, and his 15 points during that span lead the NHL.

Eichel is on pace for 50 goals among 107 points, which would be the highest goal and point totals by a Sabre since Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny in 1992-93.

Opposing player to watch: Auston Matthews wasn't pleased with his performance Friday night in Buffalo. The Leafs center was a minus-3 in 24:48 and committed a turnover that led to Vesey's third-period goal.

Matthews has 16 goals among 30 points in 27 games this season. He has nine goals among 14 points in 12 career games against the Sabres. Buffalo has not won back-to-back games against Toronto since 2017.

"They made some adjustments in the third period that we’re going to have to counter against," Krueger said. "I think above all it’s going to be an angry Toronto team after losing last night. We’re expecting their absolute A-game. We need to be strong defensively here to have a chance tonight and we believe in that opportunity."

Story topics: /

There are no comments - be the first to comment