New York, NY (WGR 550) -- With a game Thursday night and three games in four days, Dan Bylsma opted out of Friday’s morning skate in Brooklyn.
The Sabres are coming off one of their worst performances of the season against Carolina. It was a game that saw very little passion and poor performances up and down the lineup.
The loss comes at a critical time for the Sabres. They’re in the middle of eight games against teams right around them in the standing and have won one of them going 1-1-2.
That one win was against these same New York Islanders, but that game was in Buffalo. The Sabres are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games in Long Island.
Jack Eichel was pulled off the first power play against the Canes, but did play on the second. All Eichel would say is it's a coach's decision. Bylsma chose his words very carefully both in the morning and after the game. He wouldn't say why or if it was related to his play or something else. Bylsma finally did admit it was a message to both Eichel and the team.
Buffalo’s point percentage is back to .500 which has them tied with New Jersey for 22nd in the NHL. Buffalo is only ahead of Detroit and the Islanders in the Eastern Conference.
In the Atlantic Division Buffalo is tied with Detroit and is one point in back of Toronto. The Sabres trail Florida by three, Tampa Bay by five and Boston by seven. The Bruins hold the Division’s final playoff spot. Buffalo is 10 points out of the final Wild Card spot.
Robin Lehner has started five of six games and seven of the last nine so there’s a good chance that Anders Nilsson gets the net tonight.
Nilsson only gave up one goal on December 17 in a 2-1 shootout loss to Carolina. In his last six games, he’s 4-1-1 giving up 14 goals.
Rasmus Ristolainen has 15 points in his last 14 games.
Johan Larsson scored Buffalo’s only goal on Thursday and has two goals in four games.
Sam Reinhart set up the Larsson goal and has three points in two games.
Buffalo’s penalty killing has improved lately as they’ve killed off five straight penalties and only given up two power play goals in five games. That has allowed Buffalo to inch out of the NHL cellar in penalty killing.
The Islanders won their last game in Boston, but that’s their only win in six games.
Thomas Greiss played the game in Boston and made 48 saves while giving up two goals. J.F. Berube played the two games before that including the one in Buffalo and lost them both giving up seven goals.
Nikolay Kulemin is starting to put together a mini streak. He has four points in five games.
Captain John Tavares has been quiet lately with no goals and one assist in five games.
Anders Lee had a three point game in Boston. Lee has 11 goals in 14 games.
Join Mike Schopp and Sal Capaccio for the pregame beginning at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Dan Bylsma and two players.