The Buffalo Sabres visit the Carolina Hurricanes tonight for their second matchup of the season. So far the Canes lead the season series 1-0, having defeated Buffalo in the official home opener for the Sabres of the 2011-2012 season.
Twenty games into the season, and the story is definitely vastly different for these two clubs. In their last ten games the Buffalo Sabres are 6-4-0, and despite losing starting goaltender Ryan Miller to injury, sloppy uninspired play at home, and a couple of serious blow out games, the Buffalo Sabres have managed to take first place in their division, and second in the conference. The Carolina Hurricanes have however struggled mightily this year, and are 3-7-0 in their last ten games, and only have six wins on the season. Their 15 points is good enough to stay out of the basement of the Eastern Conference, but just two points above the abysmal New York Islanders.
Jhonas Enroth will get the start again for Buffalo, as goalie Ryan Miller remains out, injured by the hit he took from Bruins forward Milan Lucic. The young goaltender has not had to face much adversity when it comes to his play this year, having won 6 of his 7 starts this year, and losing for the first time in regulation since before last Thanksgiving. He will have to rebound, being outplayed by his New Jersey counterpart in a 5-3 loss.
The Buffalo Sabres have several players on offensive slumps and tonights contest might be what the doctor ordered to get guys like Drew Stafford back on the scoring beat. Carolina has allwed the most goals in the NHL. While struggling offensively themselves, keeping the puck out of their own net is the root of all evil for the Hurricanes franchise.
Buffalo has called up defensemen TJ Brennan for tonights contest, but he will probably not see the ice, as the top six will continue to play, with Gragnani in for the injured Weber.
Seriously hoping for a win tonight, not merely because the Sabres could use the two points to further extend their lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs (they are technically tied, but all of Buffalo’s points have come off wins, Toronto has two loser points). But because I need the Sabres to win more games over the Hurricanes, for fear of having a picture of me posted on the internet wearing womans attire. A quick look at the standings has everyone in the Eastern Conference at .500 or above, with the exception of the Islanders, Carolina, and the wayward traveling Winnipeg Jets.