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WGD: Game 77: Red Wings vs. Sabres

After a two day break that actually ended up being kind of busy, the Red Wings are back in action tonight in Buffalo.

The Sabres had a very strong start to the season, but the second half wore them down. From top-3 in the Atlantic Division, they have fallen to the bottom-3rd in the league. They’ve had great fortunes against Detroit this year though, beating them both times the teams have met so far, once in regulation and once in a shootout.

With two games left between these division rivals, the Wings could catch them in the standings. It’s not an ideal scenario, but the team has been winning lately which, of course, is hurting their lottery chances.

Detroit is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games when playing on the road against Buffalo – From our friends at OddsSharks

THE RED WINGS

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
TYLER BERTUZZI

Rating: 73.1#62 LW

Dylan Larkin
DYLAN LARKIN

Rating: 77.5#32 C

Anthony Mantha
ANTHONY MANTHA

Rating: 75.2#37 RW

Taro Hirose
TARO HIROSE
Andreas Athanasiou
ANDREAS ATHANASIOU

Rating: 78.3#27 C

Luke Glendening
LUKE GLENDENING

Rating: 70.2#105 RW

Darren Helm
DARREN HELM

Rating: 70.5#154 LW

Frans Nielsen
FRANS NIELSEN

Rating: 71.6#123 C

Ryan Kuffner
RYAN KUFFNER
Matt Puempel
MATT PUEMPEL

Rating: 72.2#80 LW

Christoffer Ehn
CHRISTOFFER EHN

Rating: 69.4#177 C

Luke Witkowski
LUKE WITKOWSKI

Rating: 67.1#127 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Dan DeKeyser
DAN DEKEYSER

Rating: 71.4#94 LD

Filip Hronek
FILIP HRONEK

Rating: 71.7#77 RD

Niklas Kronwall
NIKLAS KRONWALL

Rating: 71.7#89 LD

Madison Bowey
MADISON BOWEY

Rating: 69.2#96 RD

Jonathan Ericsson
JONATHAN ERICSSON

Rating: 68.1#129 LD

Dylan McIlrath
DYLAN MCILRATH

Rating: 72.7#52 RD

What even is this roster anymore? It’s like a weird hybrid between the NHL and AHL teams. The crazy thing about it is that THEY HAVE BEEN WINNING! It’s amazing what happens when your replacement-level players are actually replaced. The underlying stats haven’t been great, but there are many positives to take from this roster.

One of them is Taro Hirose, who has a 4-point game streak through his NHL debut. He’s getting some very nice top-6 minutes with Andreas Athanasiou.

Filip Hronek has also been honourably holding down an important role on the blueline, playing north of 20-minutes per night and maintaining a positive shot attempt percentage.

There are not a ton of reasons to watch the team these days, but this roster is actually quite fascinating. It’s fun to watch.

THE SABRES

LW C RW
Victor Olofsson
VICTOR OLOFSSON
Jack Eichel
JACK EICHEL

Rating: 79.6#19 C

Sam Reinhart
SAM REINHART

Rating: 76.0#31 RW

Jeff Skinner
JEFF SKINNER

Rating: 78.8#14 LW

Casey Mittelstadt
CASEY MITTELSTADT

Rating: 70.5#155 C

Jason Pominville
JASON POMINVILLE

Rating: 72.0#71 RW

Conor Sheary
CONOR SHEARY

Rating: 72.6#71 LW

Vladimir Sobotka
VLADIMIR SOBOTKA

Rating: 67.9#191 C

Alex Nylander
ALEX NYLANDER

Rating: 74.5#43 RW

Zemgus Girgensons
ZEMGUS GIRGENSONS

Rating: 69.9#163 LW

Johan Larsson
JOHAN LARSSON

Rating: 69.4#175 C

Kyle Okposo
KYLE OKPOSO

Rating: 70.6#100 RW

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS
Lawrence Pilut
LAWRENCE PILUT

Rating: 72.1#80 LD

Brandon Montour
BRANDON MONTOUR

Rating: 75.0#29 RD

Rasmus Dahlin
RASMUS DAHLIN

Rating: 74.3#40 LD

William Borgen
WILLIAM BORGEN
Marco Scandella
MARCO SCANDELLA

Rating: 70.2#120 LD

Casey Nelson
CASEY NELSON

Rating: 69.3#95 RD

This Sabres team is so young. It’s not surprising to me that they were worn down over the course of the season. They will continue to get better as the years go by. Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin have elite talent and as they come into their prime, they will be a duo to watch.

The Sabres have one big question mark on this roster surrounding Jeff Skinner. Likely to break the 40-goal barrier this season, are they going to extend him? Let him walk? Considering they didn’t really shop him around at the deadline, I’d assume they are working on an extension.

Speaking of the trade deadline, Brandon Montour’s put up seven points in the 14 games he’s played for the Sabres. That was a very nice acquisition for a very young team this year.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Linus Ullmark

Howard has a .917 save percentage over the Red Wings last six games. Both him and Bernier have been amazing lately and a big part of why the team is winning so many games.

The Sabres starter, Carter Hart, is getting a rest tonight, so the Wings will be facing Linus Ullmark. Ullmark is 14-13-4 this year with a .906 save percentage. He hasn’t won a game in his last five starts, though, so the Wings could have an opportunity to take advantage of a cold goalie.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck drop is at 7:00PM ET tonight and you’ll be able to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit or MSG Buffalo.