The Sabres and Blackhawks get two stars back for tonight
Chicago, IL (WGR 550) -- The Sabres are in Chicago tonight and both teams are getting key players back. Ryan O’Reilly returns are missing four games with an appendicitis. The Blackhawks get Marian Hossa back. He’s missed five games with an upper body injury.
Hossa has 16 goals this season, but hadn’t scored in the three games prior to his injury.
O’Reilly wasn’t playing well at all before his surgery on Christmas Day. He has one goal in his last 11 games.
Today’s morning skate was optional, but in Wednesday’s practice O’Reilly center Derek Grant and Brian Gionta.
O’Reilly goes into the lineup for Will Carrier who’s missed the last two days with illness. Dan Bylsma said the defensemen are a gametime decision.
Anders Nilsson gets his second straight start. Bylsma said it was partly due to his play and partly due to some minor bumps and bruises that Lehner is nursing. In the end it has to do more with how Lehner is feeling.
The Sabres went on a five game streak where they scored 17 goals for Lehner. They now score more for him than they do Nilsson. The team has netted 56 goals for Lehner which is 2.20 goals per game. They’ve scored 26 goals for Nilsson which is 2.18 per game.
The team has scored three or more goals five times for Nilsson and scored one or less five times. They’ve scored three or more nine times for Lehner and one or less 12 times.
Sam Reinhart has points in six out of seven games picking up eight points.
Jack Eichel has points in four straight games netting two goals and three assists.
Evander Kane has nine goals in 14 games.
Chicago is not an easy team for Buffalo to play as the Sabres have only won one of its last 10 against the Hawks.
The Sabres last win in Chicago came five days short of 10 years ago. Buffalo last win overall against the Hawks was December of 2009. Since then Chicago is 9-0-0 averaging 3.78 goals per game against the Sabres.
The Hawks have a points percentage of .638 which has them 7th in the NHL. Chicago has lost five out of six games scoring just one goal in three of those games.
You really can’t pay too much attention to that because in addition to Hossa’s 16 goals, Artem Anisimov has 16, Artemi Panarin has 15 goals and Pat Kane has 11. Jonathan Toews only has six, but I think we all know what he can do.
Former Sabre Brian Campbell is a likely healthy scratch tonight.
Corey Crawford has played four of the last five games giving up 10 goals. Scott Darling had won five games in a row before losing his last two giving up seven goals.
Tonight is a radio only game so Brian Koziol is doing the pregame a little different. From 7:30 until 7:45 you’ll hear from Dan Bylsma and Ryan O’Reilly. From 7:45 until 8:30, Brian will host a roundtable with me and Brian Duff.