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Mittelstadt to return against St. Louis

Sabres host reigning champs to open 2-game homestand

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Casey Mittelstadt was unhappy with his game in Vancouver on Saturday. So, when he was scratched in Edmonton the following night, he tried to use the opportunity to his advantage. 

"You watch a little bit of film, have a nice talk with the coach," Mittelstadt said following the team's morning skate at KeyBank Center. 

"I think it's nice to watch a game from up top, too. I think you're always playing and you get stuck in it, and you kind of get to watch from up top and see the whole rink and see where some room is, think about what you would do in certain situations. Yeah, I think it was good."

Mittelstadt will be back in the lineup tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Sabres coach Ralph Krueger spoke highly of how the 21-year-old handled taking a turn out of the lineup and will be watching to see how it benefits his game away from the puck against the reigning Stanley Cup champions. 

"At his age, for sure, it's always the responsibility that we all need to have without the puck and what we need to do without the puck, especially against a team like St. Louis that works so strong as a group of five in both directions, and they play a very methodical, high-pressure game with or without the puck," Krueger said. 

"So, tonight is about first and foremost about us being able to resist that defensively and Casey needing to play his part in that and adding, of course, once we get possession, try to maintain it and put them under pressure. And Casey's somebody who offensively can always add to the equation. So, we'd like to see him continue to build on that part of his game."

The remainder of Buffalo's lineup will be a game-time announcement. Linus Ullmark - owner of a 4-1-1 record in his last six outings - was the first goalie off the ice and is expected to start in net. 

The Sabres enter the contest having earned points in seven of their last nine games. 

"We've got seven very good defensemen who can all play within what we need from them," Krueger said. "We've got 13 forwards, actually, right now, who are all capable in many different ways to bring things into the team, and if somebody's out, it's not necessarily against them. It could be for the group or for what we see with other people. So, we'll make that call tonight."


Scouting the Blues

The Blues have picked up where they left off last season, which ended with them hoisting the Stanley Cup following a memorable second-half run to the playoffs. 

St. Louis sits atop the Western Conference with 42 points. It will be Buffalo's second game in three days against a division leader from the west, the first being a 3-2 victory in Edmonton on Sunday.

"[The Blues play] a completely different style from Edmonton," Krueger said. "They're polar opposites in the way they got to those places which challenges our style of play, because we like to be quite consistent in what we do and you have different styles coming at you. That, for me, is the exciting challenge of today, to play a team that's also over 40 points and yet attacks the game completely differently."

Jake Allen will get the start in net for the Blues. He's 5-1-2 with a .927 save percentage in nine appearances this season. 


Number to know: 13

Jack Eichel's point streak is up to 13 games following his assist on Colin Miller's overtime goal against the Oilers. He leads the NHL with 10 goals and 23 points since the streak began on Nov. 16. 

Eichel was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week on Monday. 


Tune in 

Tonight's game can be seen live on NBCSN, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Dan Dunleavy and Rob Ray will have the call on WGR 550.

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