NHL hockey: Can the Sabres keep pace with the Sabres?
The Sabres are set to start the season on a five-game losing streak, their first since a two-game skid against the Devils on Dec. 22.
While Buffalo will face tough opponents in the early going, there are signs that they can make up ground with the better teams in the East.
Here’s a look at some of the key players to watch this weekend.1.
Buffalo Sabres forward Alex Nylander (13 goals, 19 assists, 44 points in 24 games) is looking like the most exciting offensive player in the NHL this season.
Nylander is second in the league in points with 32 and tied for first in goals with 21.
He has been a major factor in the Sabres’ rapid rise this season, scoring 11 goals in 17 games this season and has an assist in six of the Sabres first 10 games.
Nylanders has had a couple of good nights, including a hat trick on Friday against the Rangers, but has yet to register a point against the Bruins.
The Sabres have played seven games since Nylander’s hat trick and have lost three of them.2.
Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (27 goals, 30 assists, 54 points in 37 games) has been playing at an elite level and is making a big impact on the Bruins offense.
He is fourth in the League in points at 23.6 points per game, with six goals and seven assists in that span.
Seidenheim also has an impressive plus-minus rating (plus-8) and is second on the team with a plus-10.
The 22-year-old is one of the top defensive prospects in the draft and has a chance to be a first-round pick in June.3.
Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (24 goals, 21 assists, 41 points in 28 games) leads the Blackhawks in scoring with 20 points in 29 games, while leading the Blackhawks with seven power-play goals.
Shaw is a dynamic playmaker, scoring more than one goal in every game he has played this season for the Blackhawks.
He was named the NHL’s second-leading scorer last season with 29 goals and is one half of the Blue Jackets’ dynamic duo of Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner.
Shaw has the tools to be an elite offensive player, and could be the best player in this draft class.4.
Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski (26 goals, 20 assists, 48 points in 33 games) had a breakout season for Dallas this season with 23 goals and 26 assists in 29 contests.
Goligioski has been the Stars best offensive player with six assists in the past seven games and has been in a dominant defensive position.
Gol, a second-round draft pick in 2013, has been on a scoring tear, finishing the season with 24 goals and 22 assists.5.
New York Islanders forward Matt Martin (21 goals, 16 assists, 27 points in 22 games) could be a steal at No. 5.
The Islanders have a lot of firepower up front, and Martin has been one of their most productive players with eight goals and 13 assists in his past 11 games.
Martin has had some shaky games this year, including three games with four shots on goal and three of those games came in the first round.6.
Philadelphia Flyers forward Travis Konecny (24 assists, 38 points in 25 games) and Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner (20 goals, 14 assists, 25 points in 26 games) are two of the best prospects in this class.
Kone, who has played his entire career in the NCAA, was the Bruins first-leading goal scorer last year and has started every game in his NHL career, including last year.
Kones five-year, $35 million contract is up after the season and Spooner’s four-year contract expires this year.7.
Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg (22 goals, 15 assists, 33 points in 23 games) ranks third in the AHL with 15 goals, but is coming off a bad season.
Zetter, who played for the Red Wings from 2015-18, had five goals and five assists in 15 games with a minus-5 rating.8.
Chicago Wolves forward Niklas Backstrom (24 points, 10 goals, 18 assists in 26 appearances) is playing at a top-four level this season after a strong rookie campaign.
Backstrom is second among rookies in goals (13) and points (18) and leads the Wolves with nine power-game goals.
He’s been a top scorer in the WHL this season but is still raw.9.
Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Edler (25 points, 12 goals, 17 assists in 28 appearances) has shown that he can play a shutdown role, but he will need to get stronger and improve his physical game to be more effective.10.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (23 goals, 10 assists, 22 points in 21 games) can be a dominant player at any position on the ice, and he is a favorite