Chicago, Ill. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres come into Chicago on Sunday with three-straight losses, four losses in five games, and five losses in seven.
The Chicago Blackhawks have done the exact same thing.
Chicago has not been a good place for the Sabres in recent years, as they’re 1-5-4 in their last 10 games in "The Windy City".
JJ Peterka and Alex Tuch have been positives lately, as Peterka has five goals and five assists for 10 points in his last 10 games. Tuch has five goals and five assists for 10 points in his last eight games.
If Buffalo wants to get out of this funk, they’re going to need more from Jeff Skinner, Casey Mittelstadt and Dylan Cozens.
Skinner only has points in one of his last five games, Mittelstadt has one point in four games and no goals in seven, and Cozens has one point in seven games.
After a brief slump on the penalty kill, Buffalo killed all four penalties against them in Winnipeg on Friday against the Jets. They don’t have a power play goal in four games going 0-for-10.
Sabres head coach Don Granato expects to have defenseman Henri Jokiharju back in the lineup after missing two games due to illness.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen will likely be in goal since he had his own net in practice on Saturday. His last action was on Nov. 14 in relief of rookie Devon Levi, where he stopped all 14 Boston Bruins shots in 22:42 of work.
Overall this season, Luukkonen is 3-3-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Since Arvid Soderblom played in Nashville on Saturday against the Predators, it’s likely Chicago counters with Petr Mrazek on Sunday. He’s 4-4-0 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.
Last June’s first overall pick Connor Bedard is off to a great start to his NHL career. In 15 games, he has nine goals and five assists for 14 points. He is far-and-away the 'Hawks leading scorer.
Both teams are bad on the power play, as Chicago is 27th in the league and Buffalo is 30th. Neither team is good at scoring goals either, as the Sabres are 24th and the Blackhawks are 29th.
The playoffs are still very much in reach, but the Sabres have to get out of this funk and get to their game. The Philadelphia Flyers currently hold down the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the Sabres are four points back of them and the Detroit Red Wings.
If you go by points percentage, the Sabres are the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Join Brian Koziol and myself for pregame coverage on our sister station, WBEN at 6 p.m. EST, where you’ll hear from Granato, Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton.