After tonight the New York Islanders will have finally played every team in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division at least once. After a prolonged COVID break, the Buffalo Sabres are finally able to play a game.
Although they may still have a number of absences. As of February 13th, the Sabres had eight players on the NHL’s Covid protocol list. Those players are Dylan Cozens, Rasmus Dahlin, Curtis Lazar, Jake McCabe, Casey Mittelstadt, Brandon Montour, and Rasmus Ristolainen.
There was no update from the Sabres on February 14th’s list, but we know that both head coach Ralph Krueger and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin were at practice on Sunday.
You have to bet that the Sabres will be motivated to play well after having to sit out since January 31st. But a two week stop mid-season while just about everyone else has been playing (like the Islanders).
The New York Islanders need to continue what they’ve established
After a five-game losing streak, the Islanders seemed to have settled the ship by going 3-0-1 this past week. That includes a shutout win over the Rangers and a statement 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
While the Sabres haven’t played in two weeks, you’ll know they’ll be motivated to get a win as they return to the ice.
Tale of the Tape
The Islanders come into today as the favorite, courtesy of the Action network.
You don’t often see a -130 road favorite in the NHL, but with Buffalo’s two-week break, the fact that the Islanders are on a roll, that Linus Ullmark is starting, and that the Sabres weren’t particularly any good before their break is all playing a factor.
According to Barry Trotz everyone is healthy enough to feature tonight. That includes Anthony BEauvillier who’s been out since January 25th.
How the Islanders lineup will be interesting. The two players likely on the chopping block (Michael Dal Colle and Leo Komarov) have played very well of late. But if Anthony Beauvillier is healthy enough to play, one of the two will step out. Who Barry chooses will be interesting.
Here’s how I think he linesup his team tonight:
Three players who were on the COVID protocol list will be game-time decisions tonight. Defenseman Brandon Montour and Jake McCabe as well as forward Tobias Reider could all feature tonight.
This means the Sabres lineup could go a number of different ways by puck drop. Reider’s replacement at practice over the last few days (C.J. Smith) wasn’t at practice yesterday, potentially meaning that Reider is in today. Or not. It’s 2021, anything could happen.
Oh! And top-six forward Sam Reinhart is also a game-time decision.
Here’s how the Sabres might lineup tonight:
**Tage Thompson is Bridgeport Sound Tigers HC Brent Thompson’s son.
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