Winnipeg, Manitoba (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres will face the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night with some players returning to action.
This will be the first game the Sabres will be without center Tage Thompson, who will be out on a week-to-week basis with a hand injury.
However, coming back for the Sabres are forwards Alex Tuch, Zach Benson and Peyton Krebs, as well as goalie Eric Comrie.
Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju also missed Tuesday night's game against the Boston Bruins due to an illness. While he is skating, the blue liner is still not quite 100%.
Before getting hurt about a month ago, Comrie was playing well with a 1-1-0 record, a 2.45 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Comrie joined the Sabres last season after being the backup in Winnipeg to Jets starting goalie Connor Hellebuyck for a while. The 28-year-old walked into Winnipeg last season, making 21 saves in a 3-2 win back on Jan. 26.
Benson and Krebs are excited to be back in the lineup on Friday, as they both played their junior hockey days with the Winnipeg Ice in the Western Hockey League.
Benson has three more games before the Sabres have to make a decision on whether to send him back to juniors or burn the first year of his entry-level contract. He’s missed 10 of the last 12 games trying to overcome his injury.
The 18-year-old is getting a great opportunity to show his stuff on Friday, playing with Casey Mittelstadt and JJ Peterka. Benson is also on the No. 2 power play with Peterka taking Thompson’s spot on the No. 1 unit.
After having a great start, the penalty kill has failed the team lately, falling to 11th overall in the NHL with a 83.6% kill rate. The Sabres have given up a power play goal in each of the last five games, killing just 13-of-19 penalties (68.4%).
The Sabres only have seven goals in their last four games, and that’s going to be hard to improve on without Thompson. That dry spell has spelled three losses in four games.
Buffalo has played pretty well in Winnipeg, though, winning five out of the last seven games.
The Jets have four wins in five games, and have scored five or more goals in all but one of those games.
Part of that is Winnipeg got hot on the power play, scoring goals in five out of six games, and going at a 31.8% clip.
Both the Sabres and Jets are better on the road than at home.
As he always does, Hellebuyck is old school and plays most of the Jets' games in net. He’s 7-4-1 this season with a 2.99 goals-against average and an .894 save percentage.
Kyle Connor is back scoring the way he used to do, as he leads the team with 13 goals and 20 points in 15 games.
Here's a look at the Sabres' projected lines for Friday night's game:
Benson – Mittelstadt – Peterka
Greenway – Jost – Olofsson
Girgensons – Krebs – Okposo
Skinner – Cozens – Tuch
Dahlin – Samuelsson
Power – R. Johnson
Clifton – E. Johnson
Bryson - Jokiharju
Join Brian Koziol for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 7 p.m. EST when you’ll hear from Granato, Tuch, Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens.