The Sabres begin a big four games stretch against the NHL's best

November 13, 2018 - 12:48 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres are in ninth place in the NHL with a point percentage of .588, but the team is in for a huge test during the next four games. Tonight Buffalo takes on number two in the NHL, Tampa Bay. The Lightning has a point percentage of .735. Next comes the Jets on the road Friday. Winnipeg is number four at .656. Carter Hutton knows this is a big stretch, “It’s something that’s brought up as a group, but with a younger group, we’re not trying to look too far ahead, we just have to take it shift by shift.”

Phil Housley thinks we’ll know more about his team after this stretch, “We’ve got six games in nine nights against good opponents and that’s going to tell a lot about our team and in saying that, I’m really proud of the group. I’m not talking about the results, I’m talking about the chemistry, the culture, the adversity, all those things we’ve had to face in a short amount of time

The third ranked team in the NHL is the Wild and Buffalo travels to Minnesota on Saturday. Pittsburgh is 13th, but it’s still the Penguins and Buffalo is there on Monday.

The Lightning have five more points than the Sabres and their leading scorer is not Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov. Brayden Point has nine goals and 19 points in 17 games.

Last time out the Lightning lost at home to Ottawa, but before that Tampa Bay had won four straight.

Tampa Bay has won six of seven games in Buffalo and are 10-2-1 in Western New York since 2011-12. In the last five seasons overall, the Lightning is 16-3-2 against the Sabres.

Tampa Bay has the second best penalty kill in the NHL, but lately there have been holes. In their last four games the Lightning have given up five power play goals.

All of a sudden Mathieu Joseph has caught fire scoring four goals and five points in his last four games.

Yanni Gourde has nine points in eight games, while Stamkos has 12 points in 10 games.

Victor Hedman has played one game after missing seven games with injury.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has played six out of the last seven games for Tampa Bay. He gave up six goals in his last outing vs the Senators. Overall the Lightning netminder is 9-3-1 with a 2.30 goals against and .927 save percentage.

The Sabres have three wins in their last four games. In the three wins, Buffalo has scored 19 goals.

Hutton will be in net after getting back-to-back wins against Montreal and Vancouver. He’s 6-6-1 with a 2.78 goals against and .912 save percentage.

Rasmus Ristolainen has a goal and four assists in his last five games and has been an important part offensively in the past two wins, but his defense has not been good at all. He’s played over 25 minutes per game in five of his last six games and if Buffalo is to beat the highest scoring team in the NHL, Ristolainen must be better.

Sam Reinhart will stay on the line with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner. Reinhart has four points in two games and six points in four.

Jeff Skinner has goals in four out of five games and five out of seven.

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