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WGD: Game 23: Red Wings vs. Sabres

The Wings are hosting the hottest team in the NHL right now, the Buffalo Sabres, for the second half of a back-to-back. This one might just be a recipe for some entertaining hockey.

The Sabres have now won eight straight games, but five of those needed to be decided in extra time. Does not take away the fact that they are red-hot and scoring at a pretty solid pace – scoring at least three goals in their last four games.

Of course, Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner are leading the way for this team, but they have been able to get some solid point totals from depth scoring options. Jason Pominville and Sam Reinhart are above fifteen points on the season, and Kyle Okposo is not far behind with fourteen.

It’s also mandatory to mention that Jeff Skinner is leading the league in goals right now.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings have slightly plateaued after their exciting couple of weeks. Coming off a frustrating loss to the Washington Capitals yesterday afternoon. Both teams might be suffering a bit with fatigue, so let’s hope for some exciting full-of-mistakes hockey.

Red Wings Lines

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

The Red Wings will most likely keep it all the same from yesterday’s tilt against the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. It did, after all, work out for them shots and attempts-wise.

A key part that deserves a major portion of the credit for the Wings’ recent success is the emergence of rookie Michael Rasmussen. Earlier this week he was able to notch three goals in three straight games, only one of them coming on the powerplay. His play as of late has been extraordinary and shows that management made the right decision to keep him around and not send him back to the WHL.

On the blueline, we’re just seeing the same old play by the same and (definitely) old players. Dennis Cholowski has been a beacon of shining light from the start of his season – looking extremely poised and putting up the right numbers to get attention.

What we see now might be totally different in just a few months’ time. Niklas Kronwall will most likely retire, Trevor Daley’s NTC runs up before the trade deadline, and Nick Jensen is on an expiring deal. Who knows what management does, but I guess we should just get ready for change.

Sabres Lines

Buffalo Sabres lines via DailyFaceoff

LW C RW
Jeff Skinner
JEFF SKINNER
Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL
Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE
Conor Sheary
CONOR SHEARY
Casey Mittelstadt
CASEY MITTELSTADT
Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO
Tage Thompson
TAGE THOMPSON
Vladimir Sobotka
VLADIMIR SOBOTKA
Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART
Zemgus Girgensons
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS
Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON
Evan Rodrigues
EVAN RODRIGUES
LD RD
Jake McCabe
JAKE MCCABE
Rasmus Ristolainen
RASMUS RISTOLAINEN
Rasmus Dahlin
RASMUS DAHLIN
Zach Bogosian
ZACH BOGOSIAN
Nathan Beaulieu
NATHAN BEAULIEU
Marco Scandella
MARCO SCANDELLA

As with most early season surging teams, the Sabres are very top-heavy. The Skinner-Eichel-Pominville line looks excellent, but beyond that, there isn’t that much of a threat from this forward group.

Mittelstadt has been underwhelming, but Sam Reinhart has made himself noticeable in the bottom-six. There was some hope for some of these forwards, but they just lost some flare in the end. Saying this, Evan Rodrigues is sure to score a hat-trick tonight for no apparent reason.

The blueline is where the Sabres have had their troubles for several seasons now and they hoped to get their messiah in Rasmus Dahlin. After stumbling through his first few weeks in the NHL, Dahlin now has seven points in his last seven games and they are all at 5v5. Definitely the blueliner they hoped to be getting when they drafted him first overall this past June.

Between the Pipes

Jimmy Howard vs. Linus Ullmark

Jimmy has been good ol’ Jimmy as of late. Securing six wins in his last seven games and having his save percentage not dip below .933 in his last five starts, Howard is absolutely tearing it up. Elliotte Friedman stated in the latest 31 Thoughts blog that Howard is looking to retire a Red Wing and the team will most likely give him an extension after this season. Whatever the term is on that new contract, Howard has certainly deserved to be extended and has shown he is still a very capable NHL goaltender this season.

Linus Ullmark was destined as the Sabres goaltender of the future, and this season he has shown some upside. Serving as Carter Hutton’s backup, Ullmark has started in six games so far and has been able to maintain a .922 sv% throughout. His most recent game was a 37-save performance against the Minnesota Wild, where he only allowed two goals go past him.

How to Watch

Puck drop is at 7:00 pm ET and will be available on Fox Sports-Detroit and MSG Buffalo.

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