FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME
7 p.m., Rogers Place TV: Sportsnet West; Radio: 630 CHED
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.