Tonight marks final game with everyone’s favorite play-by-play announcer after 51 years
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EST | KeyBank Center | Buffalo, NY
Radio: WGR 550
SB Nation Blackhawks Blog: Second City Hockey
Know Your Opponent
Record: 26-42-11 | 67 PTS
Division Ranking: 7th in Central Division
Last Game: 4-3 Shootout Win vs. Golden Knights
PP: 21st (19.3%)
PK: 24th (75.9%)
What to Watch
1. Jeanneret, Obviously
This is more of a “what to listen to” as the Sabres’ franchise says farewell to their longtime play-by-play announcer and friend Rick Jeanneret. What’s left to say after his beloved fans and the Buffalo broadcast team have said so much this season? He will be so sorely missed and remembered forever. Perhaps the realization will hit after the final buzzer tonight or in the fall as a new season starts and RJ’s smiling face and joking banter with Rob Ray is noticeably absent. Regardless of when it sinks in, it will sting. Enjoy tonight, have some tissues ready, and check your kitchen for some extra dessert to enjoy at puck drop – you know, top shelf where mama hides the cookies.
2. Fan Appreciation Night
In honor of “R.J.’s Last Call,” the first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a Rick Jeanneret commemorative tee shirt and can write a message addressed to the legend on a provided poster. Attendees are also encouraged to download the Mixhalo app, plug their headphones in, and enjoy RJ’s voice one last time while watching live in the stands.
The fan of the year will also be honored in a pre-game ceremony in conjunction with the winner of the Rico Award. Nominees for the latter are Kyle Okposo, Jeff Skinner, and Alex Tuch. One of these three forwards will win based on fan votes to honor his contributions to the Buffalo community.
Fans at home should stay tuned after the final minutes of the game to watch those at the arena give their sendoff to Jeanneret.
3. Is 40 Still a Possibility?
Tage Thompson has had an incredible season, especially the last few months. He has scored more than half of his total NHL goals this season alone (37 and 55, respectively) and recently looked as though he may be able to reach the 40-goal mark by season’s end. In his last 22 games, Thompson has 25 points and, in eight of those games, he has recorded two or more points.
However, with last night’s game against Boston being a bust and a 5-0 shutout, it is looking a little more difficult for tonight. Nonetheless, it is still possible with a hat trick and perhaps some help from teammates like Jeff Skinner, who seems to selflessly pass more to his linemates when he knows they are a stone’s throw away from a milestone (no pun intended).
Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Victor Olofsson
Peyton Krebs – Casey Mittelstadt – Alex Tuch
Rasmus Asplund – Dylan Cozens – John Hayden*
Anders Bjork – Zemgus Girgensons – Vinnie Hinostroza
Mattias Samuelsson – Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Jacob Bryson – Casey Fitzgerald
Starting Goaltender: Dustin Tokarski (expected)
*Kyle Okposo is still a question mark for tonight after getting injured during practice on Monday.
Alex DeBrincat – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik – Dylan Strome – Tyler Johnson
Philipp Kurashev – Sam Lafferty – Taylor Raddysh
Henrik Borgstrom – Reese Johnson – Boris Katchouk
Jake McCabe – Alec Regula
Alex Vlasic – Seth Jones
Caleb Jones – Erik Gustafsson
Starting Goaltender: Collin Delia (expected)