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Franson returns to lineup as Sabres host Blues

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Only two games remain before the bye week for the Buffalo Sabres, and neither of them are going to be easy. The Sabres will begin their back-to-back set on Saturday afternoon when they host the St. Louis Blues, a team that's won seven of its eight games since Mike Yeo took over as coach on Feb. 1. 

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said that while much of what the Blues do on the ice has remained the same, he's felt a different sense watching them since Yeo took over behind the bench.

Video: BYLSMA: Pregame Interview

"They're playing with a belief that they can win," Bylsma said. "They've been a big, heavy team. They've been a strong team on the forecheck. They have a good set of defensemen back there that move the puck up. I think they've just played a bit freer and with a bit more belief that they can win."

Being able to win these next two games might bring about a similar belief for the Sabres, who enter the game on Saturday having already won their last two contests. After hosting St. Louis, Buffalo will conclude its pre-bye week schedule against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Video: Game Preview: Blues vs. Sabres

Robin Lehner will start in net for the Sabres. He's coming off a 23-save shutout against Colorado on Thursday and ranks fourth in the NHL with a .934 save percentage at even strength. 

Meanwhile, Cody Franson will return to the lineup for Buffalo after missing the last four games with a foot injury. Bylsma said the rest of his lineup will be a game-time decision. 

St. Louis is led by All-Star forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who has posted team highs in both goals (27) and points (55). Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk ranks second on the team with 42 points (11+31).

Coverage on Saturday begins at 12:30 p.m. with the Tops Pregame Show on MSG-B, or you can listen live on WGR 550. The puck drops between the Sabres and Blues at 1 p.m.


Projected lineup

56 Justin Bailey - 90 Ryan O'Reilly - 21 Kyle Okposo
9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 23 Sam Reinhart 
82 Marcus Foligno - 71 Evan Rodrigues - 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson - 44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 63 Tyler Ennis

Defensemen: 29 Jake McCabe, 55 Rasmus Ristolainen, 4 Josh Gorges, 6 Cody Franson, 77 Dmitry Kulikov, 47 Zach Bogosian

40 Robin Lehner
31 Anders Nilsson

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