The Wild has found a productive order for its back-to-backs this season, with No.1 Devan Dubnyk going 2-1 in the first test and backup Alex Stalock 3-0 in the second.
And the team is sticking with that plan this weekend, as Dubnyk is starting Saturday at home against the Sabres with Stalock tabbed for Sunday’s tilt in Chicago vs. the Blackhawks.
“It seems to be working so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The outlining thing is that I think Alex is a pretty good puck handler and when defensemen are tired in the second game, he helps out an awful lot by being probably the better of the two puck-handling. So it makes sense to do it that way. We’ve done it differently in the past, looking at the opposition. It dawned on me this year that this makes some sense.”
Winger Zach Parise is good to go after missing the 6-2 win over the Canucks Thursday with illness, but forward Matt Hendricks – who jumped into the lineup amid Parise’s absence – isn’t taking a seat against the Sabres.
Center Joel Eriksson Ek is.
“At this point, this is sort of a take notice that we need a little bit more from you,” Boudreau said. “He plays hard every night. He does all the things that you want to see him do defensively, but we just need a little more.”
Although the Sabres are finishing off a back-to-back, they’re poised to present a stiff challenge for the Wild – especially since Buffalo outlasted the Jets in Winnipeg Friday night in a shootout to win 2-1.
“They’re young, speedy, skilled,” Boudreau said. “They had a lot of things going. You know how tough it is to play in Winnipeg and compete and it seems like the longer teams that I’ve seen let them hang around, the stronger and the more will that the Buffalo team gets.”
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Nino Niederreiter
Jason Zucker-Eric Staal-Mikael Granlund
Marcus Foligno-Charlie Coyle-Jordan Greenway
Matt Hendricks-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter- Matt Dumba
Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon
Nick Seeler-Greg Pateryn
2: Wins over Buffalo last season for the Wild.
1.85: Goals-against average for Dubnyk vs. the Sabres in his career.
600: Career games for center Eric Fehr.
3: Power-play goals for the Wild in the last two games.
10: Points for captain Mikko Koivu in his past six games.
About the Sabres:
At 11-6-2, the Sabres are sitting third in the Atlantic Division with 24 points. They’ve won four in a row and after their win Friday, they’ve improved to 5-4-1 on the road. Winger Jeff Skinner has 14 goals, the second-most in the NHL. His 21 points pace the Sabres. Center Jack Eichel’s 20 points rank second on the Sabres.