FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME

7 p.m., Rogers Place TV: Sport­snet West; Ra­dio: 630 CHED

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

1 Tim­ing is ev­ery­thing

Had they played this game in novem­ber, it would have been an epic show­down. Buf­falo was first over­all on the strength of a 10-game win streak and the oil­ers were just start­ing an 8-2-1 roll. But both teams have come back to earth (the Sabres have won only six of their last 20) and both sit just out of a play­off spot.

2 Not too bad

The Sabres are in a rut, but just barely.

They might be only 6-10-4 in their last 20, but the de­feats have come against fe­ro­cious op­po­nents. In­cluded in the re­cent loss col­umn: Tampa Bay (twice), Wash­ing­ton (three times), Bos­ton (twice), nashville and Toronto. and in ad­di­tion to the four over­time losses, seven of their 10 reg­u­la­tion losses have been by one goal, or two with an empty net­ter.

3 Shot dis­turb­ing

you can’t win if you don’t score, and you can’t score if you don’t shoot. That’s why the oil­ers aren’t scor­ing or win­ning. In a dis­turb­ing trend that be­gan in early de­cem­ber, the oil­ers have been out­shot in 14 of their last 15 games. They have recorded only 30 shots once in that span.

4 Who starts?

oil­ers goal­tender Cam Tal­bot turned in an­other strong night in the loss to ari­zona. The team wasn’t good in front of him and there were a cou­ple of flukes that he didn’t have much chance on. But he made key saves at key points to give the oil­ers a chance. Mikko Kosk­i­nen hasn’t started in five games, but does Ken Hitch­cock ride the hot­ter hand?

5 Mcdavid sick

Con­nor Mcdavid missed the oil­ers skills com­pe­ti­tion Sun­day, which was pretty dis­ap­point­ing for the fans, but not as dis­ap­point­ing as it would be if he isn’t there Mon­day against Buf­falo. The cap­tain has been fight­ing the flu, so the team is try­ing to keep him rested, but they ex­pect he will be ready.

Jeff Skin­ner of the Sabres recorded his 30th goal of the sea­son on Fri­day.

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