The Sabres try to take advantage of the slumping Hawks

December 8, 2017

Chicago, Ill (WGR 550) - The Sabres come into a building that hasn’t been very kind to them, but they’re also facing a Chicago team that has been struggling.

The Blackhawks are winless in five games and Corey Crawford hasn’t played in four of them. Crawford returns to a team that has lost five straight. Crawford is 11-7-2 with a 2.29 goals against and excellent .930 save percentage.

The Hawks are probably happy they’re getting Buffalo now because they’ve beaten the Sabres 11 straight times dating back to 2010. The Sabres haven’t won in the United Center since 2009 covering seven games.

Western New York’s Pat Kane has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points in 28 games, so he hasn’t been the problem. Chicago’s problem has been they had to make trades for salary cap purposes and Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook have been shadows of what they once were.

Rookie Alex DeBrincat has done a great job scoring 11 goals this season. That makes up for the meager production the Blackhawks have gotten out of captain Jonathan Toews. Toews may be coming on though as he has points in three straight games and nine points in his last 12.

Former Sabre Cody Franson had to be invited to training camp and then earned a contract. Lately he’s been playing with Keith.

The Sabres are coming off a 4-2 win in Colorado. That broke a streak of one win in 12 games. According to Phil Housley, its nice what one win can do for you, “You could see it in practice, the life, the energy. Win one game and it takes a little of the burden off the players.

“We’re going to need contributions from everybody and we got that in Colorado because we’re going to be playing a desperate hockey team and we have to go back to work. We can’t say that we won one game and relax.”

The Sabres haven’t scored a power play goal in 10 games, but they got much better movement with the puck against the Avalanche. Housley said, “We’ve talked about moving the puck quicker and that changes the defense on the PK and trying to find a good shot lane and then having that push to the net, so I really like our last game’s power play and we’ve just got to stay with it.”

Evan Rodrigues practiced on the power play on Thursday and will get a chance in tonight’s game.

Kyle Okposo didn’t practice this morning, but Housley said he will play. The scratches will be Zemgus Girgensons and Josh Gorges with Nate Beaulieu out sick.

Robin Lehner will be between the pipes. He’s 6-12-2 with a 2.93 goals against and .906 save percentage.

Lehner has played in nine of the last 11 games. He’s given up two or less goals in four of his last six games.

Join Brian Koziol for the pregame at 7:30 when he’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Benoit Pouliot and Hudson Fasching.