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Preview: Game Day #29, Kings @ Sabres

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Time: 4:00 Pacific

TV: FSW

Enemy Reading: Die By The Blade

Kings Lines

Tanner Pearson - Anze Kopitar - Marian Gaborik

Milan Lucic - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Michael Mersch - Nick Shore - Dustin Brown

Andy Andreoff - Jordan Weal - Jordan Nolan

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez

Christian Ehrhoff - Jamie McBain

Jhonas Enroth

(Jonathan Quick)

Sabres Lines

Jamie McGinn - Ryan O'Reilly - Sam Reinhart

Matt Moulson - Jack Eichel - Evander Kane

Zemgus Girgensons - Johan Larsson - Brian Gionta

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Legwand - Marcus Foligno

Josh Gorges - Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe - Zach Bogosian

Mike Weber - Cody Franson

Linus Ullmark

(Chad Johnson)

Games Notes

  • The Sabres reached all-time levels of awfulness in 2014-15. Their 37.3% Corsi close was the lowest in the NHL by a huge margin, and is in fact easily the worst Corsi performance since that stat was invented (no other team has gone below 40%).
  • But the Sabres dramatically shook up their roster, adding among other things four new top-six forwards, and have managed to claw their way back to respectability. They're at 46.0% Corsi close now. That's 28th in the NHL, and certainly not good, but it's still got to be one of the biggest improvements in recent memory.
  • Jack Eichel is not yet elite in possession numbers (-3.55% Corsi relative) or scoring (1.31 points/60), but he does lead the Sabres in shots and shot attempts by a wide margin. Not bad at 19.
  • Linus Ullmark is a 2012 6th-round pick whom Robin Lehner's injury has pressed into emergency duty. He's been decent so far (.909 in 12 NHL games), but how long can he keep that up?
  • Between McBain, McNabb, and Ehrhoff, former Sabres make up half of LA's defense. All three are playing quite well in LA these days.
  • The McNabb trade has worked out brilliantly. Hudson Fasching remains a pretty good forward prospect (coming in at 14th in the Sabres Top 25 Under 25 this year), but McNabb has done one better by establishing himself as a a respectable top four defenseman. Meanwhile Deslauriers has struggled mightily in the NHL (his -9.93% Corsi relative is last on the team this year, and he was similarly bad in 2014-15). McNabb for Fasching and Deslauriers would look quite good by itself, but then remember that LA also got two second-round picks (which became Alex Lintuniemi and Erik Cernak).
  • On the other hand, the Sabres had previously fobbed Robyn Regehr on us for those two second-round picks, so it all evens out in the end.