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Wild vs Sabres: Game previews, projected lineups, TV schedule

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The Wild will get their first look at American Hero Jack Eichel when the face-off against Buffalo tonight.

Pushovers no more, expect to see Jack Eichel and the new-look Sabres put up a better fight than last year.
Pushovers no more, expect to see Jack Eichel and the new-look Sabres put up a better fight than last year.
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

MINvBUF

For the first time in three seasons, the Wild host Buffalo without their season on the brink of collapse. The last two seasons saw the Wild limping into January with an imploding team that was on the brink of firing their coach before a win over the Sabres sparked two blistering runs to the playoffs. This year the Wild are well within the playoff bubble, seeking only to move up into the Top-3 of the Central.

And it's a good thing that the Wild aren't in the midst of a death spiral, because Buffalo isn't a joke this year. No, they're not good yet, they've got the second-worst record in the league, but they're much tougher than they've been in previous years. This is thanks to a fairly aggressive rebuild. While tanking for a McEichel last season, Tim Murray traded for power winger Evander Kane while he was out for the season with surgery. Following the drafting of Jack Eichel, Murray acquired Ryan O'Reilly, a high-end two-way center from Colorado. All three players under the age of 25, joining Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen. It hasn't shown in the standings yet, but this is the core of what will be a strong team down the road.

But for now, it looks as if the Sabres will get at least one more year of drafting high, and the Wild would love to help them in that quest. The Wild have had a rough go with the Eastern Conference as of late, losing 4 of their last 5 games. Some of that is likely attributable to fatigue, as tonight will be the Wild's 8th game in 13 days. Expect the Wild to try to finish strong, though, since the next week holds a two day break, and then another three day break.

Speaking of fatigue, I'm out for now. Here's the Tale of the Tape and tonight's projected lineups. We'll update throughout the day, and you can join us tonight for our game thread.

Projected Lineups

Minnesota Wild

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Zach Parise

Mikko Koivu

Jason Zucker

Nino Niederreiter

Mikael Granlund

Jason Pominville

Thomas Vanek

Charlie Coyle

Justin Fontaine

Ryan Carter

A Guy

Erik Haula

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Ryan Suter

Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella

Matt Dumba

Mike Reilly

Jonas Brodin

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Buffalo Sabres

Left Wing

Center

Right Wing

Evander Kane

Ryan O'Reilly

Jamie McGinn

Zemgus Girgensons

Jack Eichel

Sam Reinhart

Marcus Foligno

Johan Larsson

Brian Gionta

Matt Moulson

Tim Schaller

David Legwand

Left Defensemen

Right Defensemen

Josh Gorges

Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe

Zach Bogosian

Carlo Colaiacovo

Cody Franson

Goalies

Chad Johnson

Linus Ullmark