Buffalo Sabres Vs. Dallas Stars Preview
The Buffalo Sabres kickoff a quick two game road trip out west against the Dallas Stars tonight. The Sabres are looking to win three in a row for the first time in over a month and claw their way back into the eastern conference playoff picture. Meanwhile the Stars are fresh off a big overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche, which leaves them second in the Central division.
Dallas Stars Morning Skate Lineup:
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin- Alexander Radulov (XG: 57.5%) 224 minutes at 5v5
Roope Hintz-Joe Pavelski-Joel Kiviranta (not enough data)
Andrew Cogliano-Jason Dickinson- Blake Comeau (XG: 44%) 30.1 minutes at 5v5
Denis Gurianov-Justin Dowling- Corey Perry (not enough data)
Esa Lindell-John Klingberg (XG: 54.2%) 359.1 minutes at 5v5
Jamie Oleksiak-Miro Heiskanen (XG: 59.3%) 383.8 minutes at 5v5
Andrej Sekera-Roman Polak (XG: 49.1%) 242.4 minutes at 5v5
(GSAA: 8.78) ranked 4th
(XGA: 48.52) ranked 12th
Goalies 1000< minutes played
Sabres Projected Lineup (no morning skate):
Zemgus Girgensons-Jack Eichel-Sam Reinhart (XG: 50%) 28.8 minutes at 5v5
Conor Sheary-Marcus Johansson- Michael Frolik (XG: 35.7%) 33.5 minutes at 5v5
Rasmus Asplund-Johan Larsson-Kyle Okposo (not enough data)
Jimmy Vesey-Curtis Lazar-Scott Wilson/Evan Rodrigues (not enough data)
Lawrence Pilut-Rasmus Ristolainen (XG: 42.9%) 23.4 minutes at 5v5
Rasmus Dahlin-Brandon Montour (XG: 46.7%) 199.7 minutes at 5v5
Jake McCabe-Henri Jokiharju (XG: 43.2%) 65.6 minutes at 5v5
Colin Miller-Zach Bogosian (XG: 54.2%) 40.3 minutes at 5v5
(GSAA: 4.88) ranked 11th
(XGA:48.87) ranked 13th
Goalies 1000< minutes played
(Numbers via naturalstattrick.com and moneypuck.com)
Dallas Lineup Thoughts:
We don’t have too much data on the line combinations for Dallas’ forwards but what little we have confirms the obvious, the top line is a nightmare for defenders. They’re one of the best top lines in the NHL and they generate scoring chances at an alarming rate. Without last change, head coach Ralph Krueger will have to be extra careful against that line.
The Stars are also rocking one of the best top four defensive groups in the league. The top two pairings rank 3rd and 28th respectively in expected goals for among all pairings with at least 200 minutes together. The Sabres forwards will need to be on their toes and watch for an active defense tonight.
Dallas has played well in front of Ben Bishop conceding the 12th lowest expected goals against and he in turn has rewarded them with one of the best goals saved above average in the NHL.
Sabres Lineup Thoughts:
Assuming no changes to the lineup from yesterday's practice, it appears Zemgus Girgensons will get another shot on the top line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart. In just under 29 minutes of play he’s looked alright on that top line so we’ll see if he can keep it going tonight.
Meanwhile the exact opposite is true of line two, as that combo in their limited time together has struggled. However, Johansson has had some success with Sheary in the past and Frolik should provide some much needed two way play for that line. In theory it should get better but it’s worth keeping an eye on their usage.
If these are in fact the pairings Krueger goes with it could be a long night. Not one of these pairs has had much success in the time they’ve played together. The combination of Rasmus Dahlin and Brandon Montour seems appealing and looks good because of their skating abilities and how active they are, but the results just aren’t there. I don’t know how good a Pilut-Ristolainen pairing could really be but it will definitely be better than what they’ve shown so far. It still, however, feels like a mismatched pairing based on skill set.
Linus Ullmark has been the subject of some scrutiny lately but the numbers are on his side. He faces the 13th lowest expected goals against and has the 11th best goals saved above average. The number that’s on his side the most though is his 1.325-million-dollar cap hit, which is the 4th lowest of any goalie in the top 15 of GSAA with at least 1000 minutes played. It may not be what Sabres fans want, but as far as value goes the Sabres are definitely getting more than what they paid for.
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