Oct 26, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) makes a save on a Winnipeg Jets shot during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate #14: Dallas Stars


At 2-10-1, the season doesn’t look very promising for the Buffalo Sabres – and it gets a little more bleak when you trade away the most prolific

goal scorer in the organization since Gilbert Perreault.

The Buffalo Sabres need to put the trade behind them and not let the emotions of losing Thomas Vanek rule the day, as they face off against the struggling Dallas Starsas they visit the First Niagara Center .  There are a lot of first going on at First Niagara Center tonight – with three major storylines that could easily overtake the fact that there is a hockey game to be played.

It is officially the first game being played without Thomas Vanek – an impressive event given the last 598 games for the Buffalo Sabres have been played with him in uniform.

Tonight’s game also marks the return of Lindy Ruff to the city of Buffalo in a hockey manner since he was fired by the Buffalo Sabres on February 20, 2013.  After surviving another lockout, it was finally time to change the coach (yet the GM managed to stay) and after 15 years, the Buffalo Sabres have a coach that isn’t Lindy.  Lindy Ruff‘s Dallas Stars are not out to a glowing start in the West, starting the regular season 4-5-1.  The last time that Lindy Ruff faced the Buffalo Sabres as a coach?  March 22, 1997 as an assistance coach with the Florida Panthers.  The Panthers won the contest 3-2 in Sunrise.

Tonight will also mark the first time that Buffalo Sabres agitatator, captain and fan favorite faces off against his former team as Steve Ott faces the Stars for the first time since the trade of Derek Roy to Dallas.  Ott was drafted by the Dallas Stars and played their for ten seasons.

To the actual hockey game, Buffalo is still searching for its first win at home – and an opponent in the Dallas Stars could be just what the doctor ordered.  Dallas has not won on the road since October 11 – and the Buffalo Sabres have not lost at home to the Dallas Stars since they skated the Stanley Cup around our building in 1999.

On top of the regularly scheduled festivities that surround a normal Monday night hockey game – the Buffalo Sabres will also participate in Hockey Fights Cancer tonight, with coaches and members of the broadcast team wearing special ties – and players sporting lavender tape on their sticks as well as the Hockey Fights Breast Cancer stickers on their helmets.  SabreTooth will also be wearing a special pink jersey to honor the evening.  Some of the sticks with the lavender tape will be auctioned off after the game.

The win is important for both teams, one for Dallas to pull into a .500 spot in the standings, and the Buffalo Sabres need a win for their fans – at least the ones that are present amidst the blue empty seats.

Look for Ryan Miller to start in net, he is 4-0 in his career against Dallas – and is often to a good start this season despite the team in front of him.  Staring him down from the other end of the rink will most likely be Kari Lehtonen, who is 3-0-1 in his last four starts with a .75 goals against average.  On the season, Lehtonen has played in five games, is 3-1-1 with a 1.29 goals against and a .961 save percentage.  Ryan Miller‘s stats have ballooned recently, in nine games he is 1-8-0, with a 3.02 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.

Corey Tropp and Joel Armia are joined by Mike Weber in the press box, as the Buffalo Sabres struggle to get everyone healthy, now missing 58 man games due to injury.  They are also missing both Kaleta and Scott.  Kaleta is eligible to return in early November, while Scott remains suspended indefinitely until his hearing on Halloween.  The Dallas Stars are without Ryan Garbutt who is serving a five game suspension for his hit against the Anaheim Ducks.

Game time is scheduled for 7PM and tonight is an MSG broadcast.  Will the Buffalo Sabres pay homage to the longest tenured coach in Buffalo Sabres history with the most wins ever?  Or will they act like nothing has ever happened with their former bench boss now standing in an opponents position?

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Dallas Stars