After a slow start to their season which saw the Ottawa Senators as one of the basement teams in the Eastern Conference, they have put together a nice stretch of games that has them looking up at fewer teams than previously. Ottawa currently occupies the eighth spot in the conference, if you want to put things in perspective, the Buffalo Sabres enter tonight’s contest with 14 points, their record good enough for fifth place in the conference. Ottawa has the same number of points, as do the sixth place Panthers, and seventh place Lightning. All of the Buffalo Sabres points have come in regulation. Last night the Buffalo Sabres played a sixty minute contest where they peppered the net with 44 shots on goal. The 2-1 final was not indicative of the overall dominating performance the Sabres put on.
While the game did not go as I had anticipated, with more of an old time division rival feel, the game was very entertaining, and never once could have been considered boring. Tonight the Buffalo Sabres do take on a heated division rival, and there is plenty at stake in this contest, to include what could be a sizeable jump in the standings for one team, and a huge fall for another.
A loss tonight could propel the Ottawa Senators and Buffalo Sabres as high as fourth. A Sabres loss however could send us as low as 12.
Despite now having an undefeated record and a putting together a shutout streak of over 107 minutes, Jhonas Enroth will likely relinquish the crease to Buffalo Sabres starting goaltender Ryan Miller. Lindy Ruff has a plan for his goaltenders and will not deviate from it. I personally don’t agree with that and think that we should ride Enroth for a few games. The kid is hot and is playing like an NHL starter should play. Having said that, he only has played in three starts and one relief, if you look at the same time period of games for Ryan Miller, his numbers through just over three games this year were pretty impressive as well.
Buffalo Sabres offensive got what it needed last night. While Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek have led this team, hell have damn near carried the offense lately, they were both held off the score sheet last night. Sabres secondary scorers have to start registering key goals and points if they want to continue to have success. Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe have to find the net more, as well as other members of the top nine forwards.
A positive note for the Buffalo Sabres headed into tonights game is they will not have to play Alfredsson, who is sidelined with a concussion. While I don’t like to see guys injured, having him out of the lineup is a plus for the Sabres because he always seems to have the dagger that kills the Sabres at the end of games.
While in seasons past the Senators have the Sabres number, last year the Sabres won 5 of the 6 contests, including a 1-0 shutout last December. Keeping the Ottawa Senators below us in the standings will be much easier if we can keep that domination over our divisional rivals.
Game time is set for 7 PM. Join us here at starting at 6:30 for our in game live chat.