Buffalo will wear their alternate goathead jerseys for the first time against St. Louis
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Blues Blog: St Louis Game Time
Know Your Opponent
St. Louis Blues
Last Game: 3-1 win vs. Ducks
Division Ranking: 4th in Central Division
PP: 22.9% (11th)
PK: 70.7% (29th)
What to Watch
1. Bouncing Back
Buffalo was able to beat Montreal 7-2 on Tuesday night, and boy did they need that one. After an abysmal eight game stretch, the Sabres came out strong against the Canadiens, scoring early and keeping their foot on the gas for the entire game. That kind of effort had been missing from the Sabres as of late, especially on the defensive side, which got a huge boost with the return of Mattias Samuelsson. Samuelsson, having missed the previous 13 games, was a huge absence for Buffalo and didn’t miss a beat jumping back into the lineup with Dahlin on Tuesday night. This made it possible to move Owen Power to the second pairing with Jokiharju, with the latter then having his best game of the season. Coincidence? I think not.
Even as the Sabres return home to play Wednesday night, they will still be on the second game of a back-to-back and will have to dig deep against a surging Blues team that has won seven straight. A healthy D-core is huge to have in any game, but especially with an experienced team like St. Louis coming into town, as Buffalo can’t afford to be sloppy in their own zone. If the Sabres can follow a similar blueprint on Wednesday night like they had against Montreal, they should have a good chance to end the Blues streak and gain momentum heading into the midway point of the season.
2. Goathead Jerseys!
The day many of us have been waiting for has arrived, and I’ve never been more excited to see a jersey hit the ice. The black & red goathead jersey is nostalgic for many people, so bringing it back as an alternate is great for not only the fans, but the players to. Growing up a Sabres fan, Alex Tuch had dreamed of wearing the original goathead jersey, and tonight gets to experience it. When asked about the reverse retro jersey in early November, Tuch said, “When I put it on I had to look down…it was special. I can’t even imagine what the red and black is going to feel like.”
As this is the first game back in the black & red, I fully expect the energy levels to be higher than usual in the building tonight, coupled with Buffalo’s resounding win on Tuesday night. No matter what happens, I think we can all feel fortunate that we get the chance to see the black & red on the ice once again.
3. Thompson & O’Reilly
While Buffalo was thought to have gotten the short end of the trade between them and St. Louis back in 2018, more recently it appears to be much more even than anyone anticipated. While O’Reilly was crucial in helping lead the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in 2019, the Sabres receiving Tage Thompson as part of the deal has worked out extremely well in their favor. Thompson’s breakout season last year saw him score 38 goals and 68 points (10 more than O’Reilly), and looks to be on track to surpass those numbers this year. While O’Reilly is still an important leader and makes an impact for St. Louis, he has only put up 5 goals and 8 points through 18 games this season, while Thompson has 13 goals and 26 points through 19 games.
Thompson’s impact has only grown throughout the past two seasons, and has been absolutely terrific to start this year. I expect his impact in this game to outweigh O’Reilly’s, something that didn’t seem likely to happen just two years ago.
Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn
Victor Olofsson – Casey Mittelstadt – Vinnie Hinostroza
Rasmus Asplund – Tyson Jost – Zemgus Girgensons
Mattias Samuelsson – Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Ilya Lyubushkin
Goaltenders: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (projected starter), Craig Anderson
Scratches: Peyton Krebs, Lawrence Pilut, Casey Fitzgerald
Injuries: Kyle Okposo, Eric Comrie
St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich – Robert Thomas – Jordan Kyrou
Brandon Saad – Ryan O’Reilly – Vladimir Tarasenko
Ivan Barbashev – Brayden Schenn – Noel Acciari
Alexey Toropchenko – Nikita Alexandrov – Josh Leivo
Nick Leddy – Parayko
Torey Krug – Justin Faulk
Calle Rosen – Niko Mikkola
Goaltenders: Jordan Binnington (projected starter), Thomas Greiss
Scratches: Tyler Pitlick
Injuries: Robert Bortuzzo, Logan Brown, Marco Scandella