Saturday, October 21, 2017

Griffith, Antipin in, Johnson in net. Vancouver in town.

Published by, 10-20-2017

Forward Seth Griffith and defenseman Victor Antipin are in the lineup tonight for the Buffalo Sabres. Griffith was last seen in Los Angeles playing his third non-descript game in a row against the Kings while Antipin hadn't seen the ice since the Sabres got smoked by the New Jersey Devils on October 9.

This may be one of the last chances for Griffith as he's played in five games for the Sabres this year and has on assist and a -3 rating while averaging just over 12 minutes of ice-time. Buffalo takes on the Vancouver Canucks tonight at KeyBank Center then travels to Boston for the second of a back-to-back against the Bruins. Injuries could still keep him on the ice as Jacob Josefson has been placed on IR and Zemgus Girgensons is day-to-day but Griffith's play will ultimately determine his fate. Rochester is a stones throw away from Buffalo and will be home for their next two contests tonight and tomorrow night.

After today's game-day skate Sabres coach Phil Housley told the gathered media that Griffith needs to use his speed and that he needs to compete "in his own way." Housley mentioned that Griffith used his speed and contributed in the preseason, but the 5'9" 190 lb. Griffith has yet to make an impact.

Antipin has been in the pressbox since the New Jersey game on October 9. The 24 yr. old Russian looked as if he couldn't get a good feel for the pace of the NHL and was benched after a stat-line of zero points and a minus-4 rating in three games.  Housley told the gathered media after the team's game-day skate today that he wants to see Antipin defend better. "He's come a long way with the stick position and the body position," said the coach, "but he's got to use his speed. That's one asset he has to close quickly and create that body position early."

A spot on defense was opened up when Josh Gorges was listed as day-to-day. Housley put Antipin in the lineup despite the team calling up defenseman Taylor Fedun.

Back up goalie Chad Johnson will start his third game in a row for the Sabres. He had a strong game in Anaheim helping the Sabres get their first win of the season and Housley the first win of his career. Johnson was hung out to dry by his teammates against the Golden Knights but the Sabres managed an overtime loss in that game.

Starter Robin Lehner was ill and missed practice yesterday but Housley said today that Lehner "is back now with us" and that "he's healthy." Lehner will back up Johnson tonight.

With both Josefson and Girgensons out, Sam Reinhart moves back to center. Reinhart started out the season there and struggled mightily before Housley moved him back to wing. He began the Sabres road trip on third line wing and his play began improving to the point where Housley skated him alongside Ryan O'Reilly in the top-six. Reinhart responded with goals in consecutive games to end the trip.

Injuries have also allowed Matt Moulson and Jordan Nolan to stay in the lineup.

From today's game-day skate, the lines and defense pairings according to the media in attendance:



With the way that d-corps is set up, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see Fedun get the not over Tennyson. It's not that the latter has been playing all that bad, although his last game against Vegas was one he'd probably like to forget, but Tennyson doesn't have the on-ice vision that Fedun has. There were many times, almost on a nightly basis where Tennyson missed obvious opportunities, situations that Fedun might be more aware of.

While this is the first of a back-to-back for the Sabres, the Canucks are on the second game of their back-to-back. Last night Vancouver was pounded by the Boston Bruins 6-3 with former Sabres goalie Anders Nilsson in net.

Another former Sabre, Thomas Vanek, will also be back in Buffalo tonight for Vancouver. Vanek has four points (3+1) in six games for the Canucks.

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