NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Buffalo Sabres at 8:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Sabres are looking to build off a solid road win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday, but they know that tonight’s game at the United Center won’t be easy.
Even if the ‘Hawks have struggled of late, the Sabres- who are still last in the Eastern Conference by the way- can’t afford to take any team lightly, let alone this one.
Chicago is just 1-4-1 in their last six games and their power play has connected on just four of their last 24 attempts, which is strange considering the firepower they have on their roster.
“Whatever the numbers are or aren’t, they’re still a powerful team, a scoring team,” said Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma, per The Buffalo News. They’ve got dangerous players and that’s something we’re going to have to be very aware of.”
Also, keep in mind that they haven’t had an ounce of success in Chicago over the last decade. The last time Buffalo won a game at the United Center, Jack Eichel was still only 10 years old (Jan. 2007).
On the injury front, the Sabres are expected to get Ryan O'Reilly back tonight. He’s been out of the lineup since Dec. 27 because he had to undergo an emergency appendectomy.
“It felt great to be back with the guys,” O’Reilly said after Wednesday’s practice. “It feels like it has been months since I’ve been around. It’s nice to get out there. I feel 100 percent. It’s just a matter of making sure everybody is on board and feeling safe.”
The Blackhawks are coming off that 4-1 loss to St. Louis at the 2017 Winter Classic, but they also got some good news injury-wise.
Veteran forward Marian Hossa, who’s been out since Dec. 20, is also expected to make his return to Chicago’s lineup.
“It’s exciting to have him back in the lineup but more importantly, for his sake, he looked really good out there. Looks like he hasn’t missed a beat,” said teammate Patrick Kane said, per CSN Chicago. “Any time you get a player of that caliber that adds so much to your lineup back in, hopefully he’s playing (on Thursday) and it should give us a big boost.”
This is the first game of a four-game homestand for the ‘Hawks. They’ll take on the Sabres tonight, the ‘Canes tomorrow, the Preds on Sunday and the Red Wings on Tuesday.