Keys To Watch For In Sabres-Flames Matchup

By David Kolb | @DavidKolbMSG

BUFFALO SABRES (1-1-0) @ CALGARY FLAMES (0-2-1)

Tonight the Sabres visit Alberta, as they will skate in Calgary versus the Flames for the first of two games between the teams this season. The Sabres scored an impressive 6-2 win over the Oilers on Sunday to bring their record to 1-1-0, while the Flames gained their first point of the season in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

SABRES KEYS FOR SUCCESS

Following a fantastic season last year, Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has gotten out of the gate quickly, tallying four points in two games and hopes to bring his “A” game tonight. His blossoming offensive skills provide the Sabres with a tremendous breakout, helping the teamgo from defense to offense in an instant.

Any successful NHL club relies on their top players to produce. The Sabres hope that that can happen once again tonight after their top forwards combined for all six goals in Edmonton on Sunday.

KEYS TO STOPPING THE FLAMES

After free agent acquisition goalie Brian Elliot lost the first two games of the season, backup Chad Johnson has taken over in net and helped the Flames earn their first point of the season in their last outing against the Canucks. He will be between the pipes again tonight, but the Sabres are brimming with confidence following their dominating win over the Oilers so expect Johnson to be tested early and often.

The Sabres have yet to allow a power play goal and they hope to continue that run tonight. Allowing a power play goal against a slumping squad can sometimes wake a struggling club, so expect Dan Bylsma’s team to try to stay out of the box — or to remain aggressive on the kill.

KEY MATCHUP

The Kyle Okposo-Ryan O’Reilly-Sam Reinhart line combined for seven points on Sunday against the Oilers, proving that the trio can be a true No. 1 line while Jack Eichel and Evander Kane are sidelined. Tonight, however, they will play across from the tougher Flames’ top-defensive pairing of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie.