New York, NY (WGR 550) -- The Sabres are struggling to play good hockey this season yet one of their best games of the year was a 4-3 victory over New York on December 1. The Rangers are 5th in the NHL with a .679 point percentage while the Sabres are 28th at .472.
When you try to figure out why Buffalo played better than the Rangers in Buffalo Josh Gorges said, “When you look at the game and think about it, we didn’t do anything fancy. We knew what we were up against playing against a team where you’ve got to have one of your best games and that doesn’t mean we’re trying to go tic-tac-tie through the neutral zone making fancy plays. We’ve got to put the work boots on, we’ve got to get a little bit hungrier, a little bit more determined and just play a hard hockey game.”
Will Carrier missed the game in Boston due to a hand injury, but seems ready to return. Gorges said after practice on Monday that he feels much better after suffering a hip pointer in Boston.
Buffalo has lost six of seven games. One reason is they give up a power play goal almost every game. Buffalo has been scored on in four straight games on the PK and five out of six. If you’re giving up a power play goal in 12 out of 16 games, you’re likely not making up ground in the standings.
At a kill rate of 73.9 percent, the Sabres are dead last in the NHL.
With tonight being the first game of 2017 for the Sabres, the team could treat it as a fresh start. Gorges doesn’t really look at it that way, “Each day is a new day and a new start, you can’t dwell on or get too excited about what’s gone on in the past, but you also have to know where you stand.”
“We can’t be blind and ignorant to the fact of where we are and we can look at it as this is an opportunity for us to get on a roll, get things going, get things moving in the right direction. This is a road trip where we’re playing two of the best teams in the league and its gut check time. It’s time for us to find out what we’re made of as a group and as individuals “
Anders Nilsson gets to face the league’s third best offense. Nilsson has tailed off considerably after a hot start. He’s only started two of the last 10 games and has given up three or more goals in five of his last six starts.
Rasmus Ristolainen is Buffalo’s leading scorer thanks to 16 points in 15 games.
Sam Reinhart had his five game point streak snapped in Boston. He netted two goals and four assists for six points.
Jack Eichel has one goal and three assists for four points in three games.
Kyle Okposo scored a goal in each of the Boston games.
The Rangers have won three in a row, six out of eight and nine out of 12. New York has 20 goals in its last four games, but the Rangers have given up 15 in those four contests.
In the three wins the Rangers power play has gone 7-of-16 which isn’t good news for the league’s worst penalty killers.
Rangers goalie Antti Raanta has played in four of the Rangers last five games and nine out of 12. Raanta is 10-4-0 with a 2.28 goals against and .921 save percentage.
Raanta has not been good in his last four games giving up 15 goals for a 4.21 goals against.
Rick Nash has missed nine of 12 games with a groin injury.
Mats Zuccarello has points in six straight games. He has no goals and nine assists. Zuccarello has just one goal in 22 games.
Michael Grabner got off to a hot start, but he has just one goal in 12 games.
Chris Kreider has four goals in two games including a hat trick last time out. In a four game point streak Kreider has six goals and eight points.
Derek Stepan has four goals and five assists for nine points in six games.
Captain Ryan McDonagh has points in four straight games netting a goal and six assists for seven points.
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for the pregame beginning at 6:00 when they’ll be joined by Dan Bylsma, Josh Gorges and Will Carrier.