Welcome to our game day preview brought to you by NHL Lines site Betway!
After a practice day on Wednesday, it’s back to game action on Thursday night for the Calgary Flames (3-0-0, 6 points) as they host the Buffalo Sabres (2-1-0, 4 points). The Sabres probably aren’t the team many are expecting much out of this season, but they’re a scrappy young group that seems hellbent on proving the pundits wrong. Can they upset the Flames on home ice? Or will the Flames keep their season-opening winning streak alive?
The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. MT on Sportsnet 360 and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

The Flames

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Huberdeau – Lindholm – Toffoli
Dube – Kadri – Mangiapane
Coleman – Backlund – Lewis
Lucic – Rooney – Ritchie
Hanifin – Andersson
Weegar – Tanev
Zadorov – Stone
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Jacob Markstrom starts for the Flames, backed up by Dan Vladar. The extras are Connor Mackey and Adam Ruzicka. It sounds like probably no changes from the prior three games. But per our pal Pat Steinberg, perhaps keep an eye out for Noah Hanifin during warm-up.
The Flames enter Thursday’s slate of games as one of four teams that are undefeated to begin the season. Moreover, the Flames have faced three really good teams in Colorado, Edmonton and Vegas, and managed to find ways to win despite playing imperfect hockey games. It’s a testament to their depth and resourcefulness that they’ve been able to pull this off. Tuesday’s game against Vegas was probably their most complete game, as it was merely a pair of shots that eluded Markstrom’s glove that had them down two goals, not a team-wide malaise.
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That said, the top line is arguably the only grouping on the team that isn’t operating as intended. And it’s not like that trio has been bad, but they haven’t scored at even strength – the only three players on the team to experience that – and the hope among the Flames’ coaching staff is likely that these guys will get clicking before too long.

The Sabres

Projected lines courtesy Daily Faceoff:
Skinner – Thompson – Tuch
Asplund – Mittelstadt – Olofsson
Hinostroza – Cozens – Peterka
Girgensons – Krebs – Okposo
Samuelsson – Dahlin
Power – Jokiharju
Bryson – Lyubushkin
Eric Comrie starts for the Sabres, backed up by 2001 Flames draft selection Craig Anderson. The projected extras are Jack Quinn and Casey Fitzgerald. Comrie is coming off a really impressive outing on Tuesday, when he posted a 46-save victory over Edmonton.
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The Sabres are a weird team. Sometimes they’re fun weird. Sometimes they’re just weird. The team is an oddly interesting hodge-podge of interesting young players and a few key veterans. Their top six is oddly fascinating, with Jeff Skinner, Alex Tuch, and a bunch of younger guys. WHL standouts Dylan Cozens and Peyton Krebs are also on this team. Their defensive group feels like it’s a couple years or a bigger-name acquisition away from being strong.
The Sabres are weird, but they’re not bad. Underestimate them at your peril.

Unavailable players

The Flames are without Oliver Kylington.
The Sabres are without Riley Sheahan and Ben Bishop.

The numbers

Flames
Sabres
3
Wins
2
6 (1.000)
Points (%)
4 (.667)
64.4
xGF%
41.8
33.3
PP%
8.3
91.7
PK%
84.6

Head to head

This is the first of two meetings between these clubs this season. The two clubs alternated shutout wins last season, with the Flames winning 5-0 in Buffalo and the Sabres pulling off a 1-0 overtime win in Calgary.
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Social life

Here are your recommended follows from Sabres Twitter: