What to Watch: Sabres at Canucks (Oct. 20)

What to Watch: Sabres at Canucks (Oct. 20)
Posted at 4:43 PM, Oct 20, 2016

Thursday the Buffalo Sabres will wrap up their Western Canada road trip with a matchup against the undefeated Vancouver Canucks (3-0-0). Get a pot of coffee ready, because puck drop isn’t until 10 p.m. Eastern.

Some storylines to follow during the game, if you do in fact decide to stay awake:

No Miller? No problem.

26-year-old Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom is expected to get the start tonight — and so far this season he hasn’t lost (2-0-0). Vancouver starting goaltender Ryan Miller, who spent 11 seasons in Buffalo, will be the backup after experiencing some tightness earlier in the week. Marsktrom has a 1.97 goals against average and a .913 save percentage in his two games this season.

Robin Lehner in goal for Sabres

Sabres backup goaltender Anders Nilsson was expected to get his first start of the year “soon” according to Sabres coach Dan Bylsma, but it won’t be Thursday. In his first three games Lehner has looked average, making a few nice saves but also letting in some really questionable goals.

Rasmus Ristolainen all over scoresheet

Rasmus Ristolainen has five assists in the Sabres first three games of the season. Certainly not a bad way to start. The young Sabres defenseman is quietly getting on the score sheet and has done a good job quarterbacking the Sabres power-play, which has been surprisingly efficient. In the Sabres own end, Ristolainen has at times looked a little shaky, but that comfort will come with time. Remember, the 21-year-old defenseman didn't join his teammates until the day before the regular season.

The return of Matt Moulson?

In Buffalo's first three games Matt Moulson, to my surprise, has looked pretty solid. He has scored a pair of goals, and while his +/- is -1, he's made an especially nice impact on the power play. In Tuesday's game against Calgary, Moulson was parked in front of the net while the Sabres were cycling around the zone. Ryan O'Reilly eventually threw a shot at the net -- that took a crazy bounce off a Flames defender, finding the back of the net. That defender was preoccupied with Moulson, who didn't get a point on the play, but was a big reason for the goal.



Powerful power play

In the preseason, Buffalo didn’t score a power play goal. Sabres Coach Dan Bylsma joked things would get better when they were playing with a full roster. Well, the Sabres aren’t playing with a full roster (Jack Eichel and Evander Kane), but their power play has been very efficient, going 4-16 (25 percent) with the extra man, 8th best on the young season.

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