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Ducks vs Sabres PREVIEW: Back Home for Now

Anaheim returns home to face the red hot Buffalo Sabres, hoping to avoid a second straight loss.

Buffalo Sabres v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images

Game 7

Date: Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

Time: 7:00 PM PT

Location: Honda Center, Anaheim

TV: ESPN+, Prime

Radio: AM 830

Your Enemy: Die By The Blade

The Anaheim Ducks are back at their home pond after a modest road trip that saw them split the 4 games (2-2-0). It involved some ups and downs, but the Ducks will look to build on what has been a overall positive start to the season, at least standings-wise. Returning to home ice shouldn’t put them at ease however. They face a tough matchup in their first game back, a Buffalo Sabres team with everything working for them currently.

Led by the likes of Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin, the Sabres enter tonight with a very impressive, highly unexpected, 5-0-1 record. Their top line has been superb, while still getting contributions for the rest of their lines. Their power play is vicious, and their goalies have been getting the job done. Even on home ice it’ll be no easy task for the Ducks to pull off a win.

Anaheim is still trying to find the forward line pairings that works best for them. It was expected to take some time to adjust and hopefully this game helps them get one step closer. One positive note is Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg seem to be getting into their rhythm. They factored into the scoresheet for 3 of the 4 away games, and their play will largely determine how the Ducks do overall. They seem to have a found a match in Adam Henrique as their centerman, which allows Eakins to focus more on finding good pairings for Ryan Getzlaf to best help him play his game.

This games feel like a big tell for how the season could start trending. They managed to begin the season 4-2-0, but after some inconsistent play on the road it’s kind of up in the air. They either win and the impressive start continues, or they lose their second game in a row, moving to one game above .500, and we could see the Ducks take a step back in how well they play. It’s obviously too soon to cash all the chips on a how the season will go based on a win or a loss tonight, but still the game feels like it could push them in one direction or another.

Keys to the Game

Don’t take Penalties. As mentioned, the Sabres power play is vicious. Rookie Victor Olofsson has caught fire, scoring all 5 of his goals on the power play thanks to a loaded top unit. The Bruins showed what would happen if the Ducks gave opportunities to a great power play, and the Sabres are even better in that aspect right now. If they want a win they need to avoid the penalty box at all cost and force the Sabres to play 5v5.

Upping the Goal Total. Anaheim has only scored more than 2 goals twice this season. Buffalo on the other hand has scored at least 3 goals in every game this season. With John Gibson in net I think we can bring that number down to 2, but that still means the Ducks need to get to 3 goals again if they plan on winning. All of their lines will need to be playing with offense in mind.

All Eyes on Me

I’d like to see Getzlaf get back into being the playmaker is he. A lot of people seem to be selling the idea that he can perform at an elite level, yet every game I’ve watched he’s shown examples of his playmaking ability to give his teammates great scoring chances. I’m hoping he shows a few more of those tonight and his team is able to cash in instead of squander it when he does.

For the Sabres, is it not obvious? Jack Eichel is a freaking stud. He’s leading the team in points, as expected, and I’m confident he’ll match or surpass his 82 points last season. If the Sabres score a goal, there’s a real good chance he’s a part of it.