Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Season Outlook: Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Islanders

The New York Islanders and the Buffalo Sabres will face each other three times during the 2013-14 NHL season after meeting three times during last year’s lockout-shortened season.

Last season, the Sabres went 2-1 in games against the Islanders, with the team’s lone loss coming via a 4-0 deficit.

The teams first met in Long Island on February 9, with the Sabres taking a 3-2 win. Thomas Vanek, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Sulzer scored for Buffalo, while John Tavares and Colin McDonald notched goals for the Islanders. Cody Hodgson had a pair of assists in the win, and Ryan Miller stopped 36 of 38 shots faced.

Two weeks later, the Islanders defeated the Sabres, 4-0, in Buffalo. Mark Streit, Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Colin McDonald scored, while Matt Moulson had a pair of assists. Evgeni Nabokov notched a 35-save shutout.

The final meeting of the season was also Buffalo’s final game of the year, with the Sabres coming out on top 2-1 in a shootout. Brian Flynn scored the lone goal for Buffalo, while Keith Aucoin scored for the Islanders. Thomas Vanek scored the only goal in the shootout to secure the eventual win for the Sabres.

The Islanders made a few moves this offseason, including the acquisition of former Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck in exchange for Nino Niederreiter. Clutterbuck doesn’t have a lot of experience playing against the Sabres – he’s appeared in just three career games against Buffalo – but should prove an interesting addition to the Islanders squad.

The team also signed Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin and traded the rights to Mark Streit for Shane Harper and a 2014 pick. This leaves the NY Islanders captaincy open, with many speculating that John Tavares may be up to fill that spot. He’s already proven to be a young, talented, driven player, so giving Tavares a leadership role only makes sense.

In addition, there are a couple of younger players who could step up and make the NHL squad this coming season. Forward Ryan Strome, who recently completed his junior hockey career with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs and has represented Canada in international play before, could have a chance to make it to the NHL stage this season. If he doesn’t, he’ll go down to Bridgeport of the AHL but could easily earn a call-up. There’s also defenseman Griffin Reinhart who will be given a look during camp; if he doesn’t make it, he’ll play another year with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.

Players to Watch

  • NEW YORK ISLANDERS: I’ve got four players for Sabres fans to specifically watch out for. First, of course, is John Tavares, who has 15 points in 15 career NHL games against Buffalo.Then there’s Michael Grabner, who shares a 1.00 ppg against Buffalo stat with Tavares. Grabner has 11 points – including nine goals – in 11 games against the Sabres. Matt Moulson has 14 points in 15 games, and Kyle Okposo has 11 points in 17 games against the Sabres. If Strome or Reinhart make the NHL squad, they’d be ones to keep an eye on as well.
  • BUFFALO: Cody Hodgson has four points in as many games against the Islanders. Tyler Ennis has seven points in nine games, while Thomas Vanek has scored 20 points in 28 games against the New York team. Finally, Ville Leino has six points in 12 games versus the Islanders in his NHL career.

Meetings This Season

  • October 15 @ NYI
  • March 15 @ NYI
  • April 13 @ BUF

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Ny Islanders

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