NEW YORK – Maybe a quick roadie can help the Sabres snap out of their funk. Remember all the All-Star break chatter? Nine of the next 10 games are at home and that could be a big boost in a playoff push, right? Welp, this is the only road game in that bunch and the days and nights in KeyBank Center have been disastrous.
The Sabres are 1-3-1 in the first five at home and Thursday night's shootout loss to woebegone Detroit easily stands as the lowest moment of the 50th anniversary season.
Coach Ralph Krueger stood defiantly in front of reporters after the debacle, promising to keep his team pushing forward. The empty seats in the arena – and the booing that filled the building much of the night – said the fan base is skeptical.
"There's a bite in that room. They don't want this season to fall away," Krueger insisted of his players. "They want to fight against this storm that we're fighting against. We have to stick together and we have to work together on solutions and that's all we can do in this adversity right now."
The Buffalo lineup: On the back-to-back, the Sabres did not skate this morning. Coach Ralph Krueger said Lawrence Pilut and Zach Bogosian will be healthy scratches and one forward to be announced will be scratches.
Rasmus Dahlin, who has missed two straight games with an upper-body injury, will return.
"It's a game of percentages and again today it's a game where you need to expect the one-goal game," Krueger said 90 minutes before faceoff. "To tip it in our favor it's percentage points, and players like Dahlin can give you those percentage points on the power play or on 5-on-5. It's a nice addition and he's fresh. Coming into a back to back, it's always good to have a fresh body back there."
Carter Hutton's disastrous losing streak that reached 12 games before ending Saturday against Columbus started with a 6-2 loss at MSG on Oct. 24. Hutton will get the call in goal against the Rangers again tonight.
"Our last game here was about our puck management. We were turning over pucks en masse here last time," Krueger said. "Better puck management to not feed into their really lethal speed on offense."
Rangers net a big story: The apparent phaseout of veteran Henrik Lundqvist (10-11-3, 3.13/.907) has seemingly begun, as he will sit for the seventh time in nine games. Alexandar Georgiev (12-10-1, 3.12./.909) will start tonight and rookie Igor Shesterkin (4-1, 2.61/.922) has burst on the scene since his call-up from Hartford.
The Bread Man: Rangers winger Artemi Panarin has been worth every penny of that seven-year, $81.5 million contract he signed last summer. Panarin has 27 goals, 44 assists and 71 points, good for fifth in the league in scoring.
#Sabres lines in warmup vs. DET:
Scratched: Asplund/Bogosian (healthy), Dahlin (upper)
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) February 6, 2020