The first game of the Buffalo homestand did not go well for the Sabres, and now the Ottawa Senators are in town. The Sabres (17-20-4) will look for redemption against a tumultuous Senators team (14-22-0) in a battle of the bottom of the Atlantic Division.
The biggest news heading into Thursday night’s matchup is the health of Buffalo forward Jeff Skinner. The left winger has been one of the top contributors all season for the team, but was absent for both Wednesday’s practice and Thursday morning’s skate.
It’s an upper-body injury according to coach Don Granato, and the Sabres stated Thursday he’s will miss the game and is week-to-week. Victor Olofsson practiced in his usual spot on the top line, and it is expected captain Kyle Okposo will return to the lineup tonight per Granato. We’ll see how the lines shape up pregame in warmups.
How to Watch
Gametime: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: KeyBank Center (Buffalo, NY)
TV: MSG (Buffalo); RDS, TSN (Ottawa)
Stream: MSG+; ESPN+ (Out-of-market)
With Devon Levi leaving more to be desired last game, it’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen’s turn to build upon his impressive last outing. Luukkonen posted a very impressive 3.01 goals-saved above expected against the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday, per to Evolving-Hockey.
Regardless of Skinner’s status, it looks like Tage Thompson will reunite on the top line with Alex Tuch. Last game, Thompson was quickly demoted to the 3rd line in lieu of Casey Mittelstadt, who posted a great outing. It was a one game blip for Thompson, who was riding an impressive string of recent success prior to Tuesday.
In a largely disappointing season, the Senators seem to be going through the motions lately. Ottawa is 3-7-0 in their last 10 games, including losing four straight.
The top offensive talent is still there, but the team defense and goaltending has been porous. The experience of interim coach Jacques Martin hasn’t steered things in the right direction as expected, leaving questions regarding the future of the core of the team.
- Jeff Skinner (Upper Body) Week-to-Week
- Victor Olofsson (Illness) Day-to-Day
- Kyle Okposo (Lower Body) Day-to-Day
- Artem Zub (Illness) Day-to-Day
- Rourke Chartier (Upper Body) Out [IR]
Projected Lines and Pairs
Casey Mittelstadt – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Jack Quinn
Jordan Greenway – Peyton Krebs – Zach Benson
Eric Robinson – Zemgus Girgensons – Kyle Okposo
Rasmus Dahlin – Mattias Samuelsson
Owen Power – Erik Johnson
Ryan Johnson – Connor Clifton
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Confirmed)
Lineup Source: PuckLuck Projected
Goalie Source: Lance Lysowski, The Buffalo News
Brady Tkachuk – Josh Norris – Drake Batherson
Vladimir Tarasenko – Tim Stutzle – Claude Giroux
Dominik Kubalik – Ridly Greig – Parker Kelly
Jiri Smejkal – Mark Kastelic – Angus Crookshank
Jake Sanderson – Jakob Chychrun
Thomas Chabot – Artem Zub
Erik Brannstrom – Travis Hamonic
Joonas Korpisalo (Projected)
Lineup Source: PuckLuck Projected
Goalie Source: PuckLuck Projected
Betting Odds Breakdown
The Skinner injury is a big of enough swing to see PuckLuck’s model favoring the Ottawa Senators on the road. They’re still listed as slight underdogs on the consensus moneyline, leaving plenty of value to bet there.
Similarly, the +1.5 goal puckline favors Ottawa, despite the approximate -225 line not paying great.
It’s notable that there should be a ding in goal-scoring as well with the Sabres scrambling to rearrange lines without the team’s leading goal scorer. The Senators have done wonders for the over, which should push the 6.5 under to plus-money. If goaltending is average on both sides, then the under should pay off nicely.
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