Game Day Preview #28, Los Angeles Kings @ Buffalo Sabres

Please read for important facts about Buffalo, the city

Preview: Los Angeles Kings (14-11-2) @ Buffalo Sabres (10-11-6)

How to Watch and What to Watch For

Here are some incredibly important facts about Buffalo, the city:

  • Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president there in 1901, making him one of the few U.S. Presidents to take the oath of office outside of Washington D.C.
  • Rick James grew up in Buffalo
  • The annual YMCA Turkey Trot began in 1896 and is allegedly the oldest continually running public footrace in North America
  • The Kings haven’t won a game there since 2003/

That’s right, the Kings beat the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo on February 21, 2003 and are winless since; the Sabres are 7-0-0 against the Kings since then.

Facebook, Twitter, and the iPhone didn’t exist the last time the Kings won in Buffalo. Pluto was still a planet.

The Kings have faced off against good Sabres teams (the 2006-07 Sabres led the league in points) and awful Sabres teams (last year, the year before, the year before that….) but there’s one thing that’s consistent: the Kings can’t manage to scrape together a win there.

Of course, we don’t want to treat a Kings loss as a foregone conclusion.  The Sabres are struggling this year -- they’re having trouble scoring (dead last with 55 goals for), their starting goaltender is 1-6-3 in his last ten, and they’ve been besieged by injuries.  Coach Dan Bylsma shuffled up his lines, putting together what could be a highly dangerous second line in Evander Kane, Jack Eichel, and Kyle Okposo. If it’s goals you’re after, they might be the guys to do it.  On the blue line, Rasmus Ristolainen continues to emerge as a force to be reckoned with. With Zach Bogosian still out, the big Finn is certainly a player to keep an eye on. Ristolainen is second on the team in points with seventeen (though he’s only got one goal). Before you raise your eyebrows at that, he’d be second on the Kings, right ahead of fellow defensemen Alec Martinez and Drew Doughty.

For the Kings, they finally saw success against the Senators, though three of their four goals came on the powerplay. That probably isn’t something that’s going to be repeated tonight, but it is worth mentioning that the Sabres have the 29th worst penalty kill in the league right now, so it’s certainly a possibility.  Defense stays the same for the Kings, but the forward lines see some changes, with Tanner Pearson dropping down a line to skate with Nick Shore and Dustin Brown. Based on the morning skate, Devin Setoguchi is out again, as well as Nic Dowd. Alas, the magic of the Brown-Dowd-Setoguchi line might be lost (for now). Peter Budaj looks to get the start again. Maybe the starter-who-wasn’t-supposed-to-be will be the one to finally break the Kings’ curse in Buffalo.

Projected Line Combinations

Los Angeles Kings

Gaborik - Kopitar - Lewis
King - Carter - Toffoli
Pearson - Shore - Brown
Clifford - Andreoff - Nolan

Forbort - Doughty
Muzzin - Martinez
Gravel - Greene


Buffalo Sabres

Carrier - O'Reilly - Reinhart
Kane - Eichel - Okposo
Foligno - Larsson - Gionta
Deslauriers - Grant - Girgensons

McCabe - Ristolainen
Kulikov - Franson
Gorges - Falk


Opposing Preview: Die By The Blade