Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

GAME DAY: Mmmmmmmm, Buffalo Wings (7:00 p.m. ET, BSDET)

Both the Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings snapped four-game losing streaks with wins in their most recent games.

The Sabres’ victory was more recent, coming just yesterday when they dispatched the Montreal Canadiens at home by a 4–1 score. Detroit defeated the St. Louis Blues 4–2 on Wednesday.

The Red Wings and Sabres have both exceeded expectations early in the 2021–22 season by merely being average instead of horrendous. Both teams finished with bottom-five records in the entire NHL last year; this season, neither team is even close to the basement in the Atlantic Division, let alone the league.

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Buffalo has received surprising contributions from de facto No. 1 center Tage Thompson, who initially became a Sabre in the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues.

Thompson, 24, is a 6’7″ pillar who scored a total of 18 goals in his first four NHL seasons. This year, he has 10 goals in 20 games.

Lucas Raymond has led the way for Detroit this season, although his ascent has been far less of a surprise. The 2020 fourth-overall pick starred for Frölunda in the Swedish Hockey League before joining the Red Wings as a teenager. Raymond will likely don the blue and yellow of his home country in Beijing at the 2022 Olympics.

The Red Wings

Detroit went with these lines in its 4–2 win over St. Louis on Wednesday:

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Tyler BertuzziDylan LarkinLucas Raymond
Filip ZadinaPius SuterRobby Fabbri
Vladislav NamestnikovMichael RasmussenAdam Erne
Sam GagnerJoe VelenoGivani Smith

Nick LeddyMoritz Seider
Jordan OesterleFilip Hronek
Daniel RenoufGustav Lindstrom

Both Veleno and Danny DeKeyser missed Friday’s Red Wings practice. Veleno is currently day-to-day after exiting Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury; DeKeyser is still in COVID protocol.

Thomas Greiss (4–6–1, .901 SV%) hasn’t started for the Red Wings since Nov. 18. Expect him to get some action against Buffalo on Saturday.

The Sabres

Buffalo deployed these lines against Montreal on Friday:

Jeff SkinnerTage ThompsonVictor Olofsson
Brett MurrayDylan CozensKyle Okposo
Rasmus AsplundZemgus GirgensonsAnders Bjork
Vinnie HinostrozaCody EakinJohn Hayden

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Rasmus DahlinMark Pysyk
Jacob BrysonHenri Jokiharju
Robert HaggColin Miller

After Dustin Tokarski started for the Sabres on Friday, Aaron Dell (0–4–0, .862 SV%) will likely get the call in Detroit.

Scoring leaders

Detroit: Lucas Raymond (eight goals, 20 points); Dylan Larkin (10 goals, 18 points); Tyler Bertuzzi (nine goals, 18 points); Moritz Seider (two goals, 13 points); Vladislav Namestnikov (seven goals, 11 points).

Buffalo: Tage Thompson (10 goals, 15 points); Victor Olofsson (five goals, 13 points); Kyle Okposo (six goals, 12 points); Jeff Skinner (five goals, 12 points); Rasmus Asplund (five goals, 12 points).

Players to watch

Detroit: On Wednesday, Daniel Renouf played his first game as a Red Wing in nearly five years. The 27-year-old defenseman made his NHL debut with Detroit on Mar. 27, 2017, logging 13:35 in the big leagues before returning to the American Hockey League. He’d spend the next three full seasons in the AHL before returning to the NHL for 18 games as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2020–21.

Buffalo: Including this season, Jeff Skinner has six more years on his contract at $9 million per season. That’s a hefty sum for a player who scored just seven goals and 14 points in 53 games last season. The good news: Skinner already has five goals and 12 points in just 20 contests this season and looks to be playing his most energetic hockey since his debut go-round with the Sabres in 2018–19. He had 40 goals that season — could he crack 25 this year?

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Viewing and listening options

Saturday’s Red Wings game will be broadcast on Bally Sports Detroit starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. It’ll be sent over the airwaves on WXVT-FM 97.1 “The Ticket” in the Detroit area, as well as on the Red Wings’ official website.


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