The Sabres try to continue their winning was against the division's best teams

March 15, 2018 - 12:41 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres have done pretty well against the top three teams in the Atlantic Division. In their last five games against Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto the Sabres have won all five. Overall they’re 6-2-0 against them.

It’s something that’s hard to explain considering the Sabres are the worst team in the National Hockey League. They can go back ahead of Arizona overall if they beat the Leafs tonight and the Coyotes lose to Nashville.

Buffalo took down the Leafs 5-3 just 10 days ago. Chad Johnson has been in goal for all five of the wins against those teams and I’m very surprised he’s not starting tonight. Robin Lehner gets the call. He’s played in three straight games going 1-0-1 with a 1.84 goals against and a .946 save percentage.

Marco Scandella didn’t take part in the morning skate, but Phil Housley said he will play tonight.

As we told you Wednesday, Jack Eichel isn’t ready to return yet, but he has practiced for three straight days with the team.

Evan Rodrigues returns after missing five games. He will center Zemgus Girgensons and Nick Baptiste. Rodrigues has four goals and five assists for nine points in his last 11 games. Phil Housley likes how the forward’s game has progressed, “I just like Evan’s game, he’s playing a good two-way solid game for us and defensively he’s done a better job.”

Despite Housley liking the improvement, he said there is still one thing that needs to be better, “When he attacks the game with a shot mentality, I’d like to see him shoot the puck more. You can see when he does shoot the puck, he gets results, but I wish he would do it more often, especially on the power play.”

With Jack Eichel out and Jacob Josefson missing a lot of time this season, Rodrigues has had to play quite a bit of center. That’s not where his coach envisions him in the future, “That’s just going to matter where we are in our lineup. I think it’s great that he’s versatile and can play both positions, but I’d like to see him on the wing a little bit more and he’s going to get an opportunity eventually down the road.”

The other lines for the Sabres will be:


Wilson  O’Reilly  Reinhart

Pouliot  Larsson  Pominville

Nolan  Josefson  Bailey


Scandella  Ristolainen

Guhle  Nelson

Beaulieu  Antipin

Gorges  Falk


The Sabres are 19-3-1 in their last 23 homes games against the Leafs.

Toronto beat Dallas Wednesday night in a shootout 6-5, but the Leafs lost their goaltender to injury. Freddie Andersen is out which puts Curtis McElhinney in net. Mike Babcock said since it’s a back-to-back, Andersen wasn’t playing tonight anyway.

The Leafs backup is 8-4-1 with a 2.27 goals against and .929 save percentage.

Auston Matthews has missed seven games with a shoulder injury.

Toronto is about as streaky of a team as you’ll see in the NHL. Before these two wins, the Leafs lost four straight, before that, it was 13 wins in 15 games, then one win in six. I think you get the idea. All that has them third in the Atlantic, seven points behind the Bruins and 14 points ahead of the Panthers.

James van Riemsdyk had the hat trick against the Stars giving him nine goals in 15 games.

Nazem Kadri has six goals in his last seven games.

Will Nylander hasn’t scored a goal in 12 games.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pregame at 6:00 live from 716 when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Brendan Guhle and Casey Nelson.

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