The New York Rangers – and their new head coach Alain Vigneault – will face the Buffalo Sabres three times in the upcoming NHL season. This season will mark the first time since February 21, 2009 that the Rangers and Sabres meet with the Rangers coached by someone other than John Tortorella.
At that time in 2009, Tom Renney was head coach of the Rangers – before being relieved just one night later, with Tortorella being named his replacement the day after that.
Under Tortorella’s regime, the Rangers went 9-7 against the Sabres… but things are about to change, and it’ll be quite different to face the team without Torts this coming season.
Vigneault returns to coach in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2000-2001, when he was coaching with the Montreal Canadiens. Since joining the Vancouver Canucks in 2005-06, he’s gone 1-4 against the Sabres, but that’s a small sample size, not to mention a completely different roster and a whole conference between then and now – so don’t read too much into that.
Vigneault’s roster will include a number of returning players, including center Derek Stepan, who led the team with 44 points in 48 games last season. Left winger Rick Nash, center Brad Richards and captain Ryan Callahan are all also returning. Nash led the Rangers with 21 goals, while all four players were the top four point-getters on the team.
The team will face the loss of a few players but also has some new faces joining the squad, including Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore. Aaron Johnson is another free agent acquisition, with the Rangers also grabbing Danny Kristo and Justin Falk via trades.
Last season, the Rangers won two of three games against Buffalo, including a destructive 8-4 victory on April 19 in their last meeting of the season to eliminate the Sabres from playoff contention. Twelve different NY Rangers skaters had at least a point, with Brad Richards leading the way with a hat trick. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Ryane Clowe had two points each in the win.
Henrik Lundqvist has gone 12-10-2 in 24 games against the Sabres and has 613 saves on 666 shots faced from Buffalo, with a 2.43 GAA and .916 save percentage in his career against Buffalo. Ryan Miller is 13-5-5 against the Rangers in his NHL career.
Players to Watch
- NEW YORK RANGERS: Rick Nash has 12 points (8-4) in 13 career NHL games against the Sabres. Then there’s Brad Richards, who has 31 points in 37 games against Buffalo, and captain Ryan Callahan has 13 points in 23 games. Finally, you can’t forget about Derek Stepan. Stepan has seven points in 11 career NHL games against the Buffalo Sabres…. including that time he scored not only his first NHL goal but his first NHL hat trick… in his first NHL game… against the Sabres. Sigh.
- BUFFALO: Be on the lookout for Marcus Foligno, as the Rangers seem to be one of his favorite teams to face in his short NHL career so far. Foligno has five points in four games against the Rangers. Center Tyler Ennis also loves to face the Rangers – he has 11 points in as many career games. Drew Stafford has scored 13 points in 21 games against the Blueshirts.
Meetings This Season
- October 31 @ NYR
- December 5 @ BUF
- April 10 @ NYR