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Rangers visit Eichel and the Sabres for first time this season

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-sabres

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After a comeback victory over the Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Rangers (16-7-1) will hit the road for Buffalo and take on the Sabres (8-9-5) for the first time this season.

New York is coming off of a game where they didn’t play particularly well, but managed to come away with a win anyway. Rick Nash had a spectacular game, with a goal and an assist in a dominant offensive performance, while Jimmy Vesey scored the game winner on the power play to end a scoreless drought. Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in the win.

Buffalo is also coming off of a win, an exciting back-and-forth game against the Ottawa Senators that ended with a 5-4 scoreline. Ryan O’Reilly led the way with two goals and an assists, while Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart, and Jack Eichel, in his first game back from injury, had a goal and an assist.

The Rangers need to get off to better starts in games, and stop letting teams eliminate their speed game by forcing them to devolve to a dump and chase game. They haven’t played too many good, complete, 60 minute efforts in a while, and a good effort tonight would go a long way.

This is the first of three games against the Sabres, and the first of two in Buffalo. The Rangers took two of three games against Buffalo last season, including the one game at the KeyBank Center, scoring three or more goals in each of the games. Mats Zuccarello had two goals and an assist, while Jesper Fast had a goal and three helpers.

The Sabres enter tonight’s game playing respectable hockey, with a 5-5-2 record in their last 12 games. Robin Lehner is the likely goalie for tonight’s game. He’s been pretty good this season, with a 5-7-3 record along with a 2.40 GAA and a .921 save percentage.

Jack Eichel made his triumphant return to the Sabres’ lineup on Tuesday, scoring a goal and an assist in his first game back from an ankle injury that he suffered during practice in the preseason. The 20-year-old had an excellent rookie season last year, scoring 24 goals with 32 assists for a total of 56 points. He’s a threat at all strengths and the Rangers need to watch out for him.

Kyle Okposo has had no problem adjusting to his new team after signing a big contract in the offseason with the Sabres, and he is leading the team in points (7-8-15) in 21 games played. Okposo is at the forefront of the NHL’s fifth ranked power play, scoring three goals and 10 points on the man advantage so far.

Henrik Lundqvist is the expected starter for the Rangers. Hank has won his last two starts, allowing four goals on the last 70 shots he’s faced. So far, he has a record of 11-6-1 with a 2.40 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 18 appearances.

Rick Nash was the offensive catalyst in the win over the Hurricanes, and his success tends to come in bunches. Nash has been playing quite well this season, currently sitting at 10 goals and 16 points while playing in all 24 games. He has three goals and five points in his last five games, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps it up tonight.

Michael Grabner has been quiet lately, being held without a point in the last four games. He still leads the Rangers with 12 goals, and his speed and scoring ability has been a massive threat this season. It’s important that his scoring stays somewhat consistent so he doesn’t end up like Oscar Lindberg, who scored 17 points in his first 27 games and then almost nothing for the next 60 games. Grabner will look to get back on the scoresheet tonight.

The Rangers and the Sabres will faceoff at the KeyBank Center at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

Chris Krieder-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-Rick Nash

Michael Grabner-JT Miller-Jesper Fast

Matt Puempel-Josh Jooris-Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on December 1, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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