Buffalo Sabres Lines:
Zemgus Girgensons – Jack Eichel – Sam Reinhart
Conor Sheary – Marcus Johansson – Michael Frolik
Rasmus Asplund – Johan Larsson – Kyle Okposo
Jimmy Vesey – Curtis Lazar – Evan Rodrigues
Lawrence Pilut – Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Dahlin – Brandon Montour
Jake McCabe – Henri Jokiharju
Dallas Stars Lines:
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Alex Radulov
Roope Hintz – Joe Pavelski – Joel Kiviranta
Andrew Cogliano – Jason Dickinson – Blake Comeau
Denis Gurianov – Justin Dowling – Corey Perry
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak – Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera – Roman Polak
Keys to the Game
#1. Loosen the reins on Rasmus Dahlin
Rasmus Dahlin hit a noticeable rough patch this October/November where he did not look like himself. His decision-making appeared to be off and he suffered from too many defensive mishaps in his own end. Since returning from injury, Dahlin is beginning to look like his old, elite self once again. Since Christmas, he has had a solid 9 games with a 57.5 xGF% and 51.2 CF% during that stretch. Dahlin’s confidence and creativity is beginning to shine once again and it is a beautiful sight to see. Due to his improved play, I think it’s time to start giving him more 5v5 ice time. During Tuesday’s game against Vegas, Rasmus Dahlin saw only 8:57 of 5v5 ice time, the lowest of any Sabres skater. I understand that Ralph Krueger wants to ease Dahlin into a larger role, but he has been one of the team’s best players this past month and is very deserving of at least average ice time. He excelled in a bigger role last season, there’s no reason to think he can’t do the same in his sophomore season.
#2. Stick to the strong defensive gameplan
Let’s be honest, this is really the only gameplan the Sabres can have with the injuries to Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson. Being strong defensively and hoping the goalie does not let in any soft goals gives the Sabres their best chance of winning this game. Buffalo shut down one of the best 5v5 offenses in Vegas last game, there is no reason to think they cannot do the same against Dallas tonight. The Stars are going to be a very tough team to beat on the road. Ben Bishop is very hot and is likely going to be a Vezina finalist yet again. Their special teams are rolling right now with a power play goal in six-straight games. They have won 7 of their last 8 games and boast a 15-6-2 record at home. So yeah, the Sabres will have their hands full tonight and really need to limit the Stars’ chances if they want to secure a W.
#3. Let Jack Eichel do Jack Eichel things
There’s no denying that the Sabres depth scoring has been pretty lackluster this year and it’s unlikely that they will find their scoring touch against Ben Bishop and a strong Dallas defense. It’s a good thing that Sabres have Jack Eichel on their side who happens to be having the best season of his career. There’s not many players who can rush the puck end-to-end, put into the back of the net, and instantly change the game like Eichel can. He’s currently riding an 8 game-point streak and the Sabres need him to find his way onto the scoresheet tonight if they want to take down the Dallas Stars.