The Sabres made waves recently when they fired Lindy Ruff after 16 seasons as their head coach. Since then they’ve gone 3-2 under Ron Rolston. Under both coaches, the Sabres system is similar to what we’ve seen from the Flyers under Peter Laviolette, which is essentially two different looks.
The first look is the 2-1-2 forecheck, which the Rangers utilize as well. This is an aggressive system designed to create pressure below the dots and cause turnovers down low.
In certain game situations (i.e., the score, time left in a period, etc.) they tend to switch to a slightly more conservative 2-3 lock. This system also sends two forecheckers into the zone, but the third forward sits back with the defense up high. This ensures protection against odd man rushes, but also provides some pressure to create turnovers.
In the defensive zone, the Sabres tend to pressure the points, yet they haven’t been very good at giving Miller protection in the slot. If our defensemen can handle their high zone pressure and get shots through, our low forwards will have an opportunity to crash the net and score some dirty goals.
As for special teams, the Rangers also have an opportunity to continue to build on their power play. They’ve scored 4 PP goals in their last 7 games. With the amount of penalties the Sabres take, hopefully the Rangers will get an early PP goal and get the crowd behind them and a lead in front of them.
Speaking of special teams, the Sabres have a lot of fire power up front in Vanek (12g), Hodgson (8g), Ennis (7g) and Pominville (7g), yet their power play is 28th in the league. And a few people thought Ruff should replace Torts? Um no.
For more on Tortorella’s systems read here.
2012-2013 Records: Buffalo (9-12-1), Rangers (9-8-2)
NYR Leading Scorer: Rick Nash (4-10-14)
BUF Leading Scorer: Thomas Vanek (12-15-27)
NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (16 GP, 2.31 GAA, .917 SV%)
BUF Goaltender: Ryan Miller (20 GP, 2.82 GAA, .916 SV%)
Rangers Lines (unconfirmed):
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Taylor Pyatt-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
J.T. Miller-Brian Boyle-Marian Gaborik
Stu Bickel-Jeff Halpern-Darroll Powe
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Anton Stralman
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Probable Scratches/Injuries: Mike Sauer (concussion), Arron Asham (back), Matt Gilroy
Fun Fact: The Rangers are one of the least penalized teams in the NHL (thanks Torts)
Broadcast Info: MSG 730pm
JT Miller post-practice interview from Saturday: