Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate #31: Ottawa Senators

The good news for the Buffalo Sabres (6-22-2) as they are set to entertain the Ottawa Senators (12-14-5) is they

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

are 4-1-3 against the Senators at home in their last ten games.  They have not lost two straight home games in regulation to Ottawa since 2010.

Ottawa comes in tonight having won their last game – and Buffalo looks to snap a two game losing streak.  This is the second meeting between Atlantic division rivals, and the first since the opening salvo’s of the season where the Senators skated away with a 1-0 victory on October 4.  They will not have to wait that long for game three of the five game series, as the teams faceoff in Ottawa on Thursday night.

Tonight marks the 118th all time meeting between the two franchises.

If the Buffalo Sabres want to come out victorious in tonight’s contest, the best way to do it might be to take the game to a shootout.  While adding the extra time to the game gives the Sabres fans more value for their dollars, it also increases the chance of the team winning.  Half of the Sabres victories have come in the shootout, and Ottawa was 0-4 in one on one competition up until their win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ottawa’s success has come from a name that Buffalo Sabres fans will remember, as Clarke MacArther is on pace to break his career highs in goals and points – as he has been one of the most reliable forwards for Ottawa since signing there as a free agent.

Buffalo is still trying to find out who their most reliable forward is.  While things have gotten better for the Sabres since Ted Nolan has taken over, the back of the net still remains a mythological creature for most of the Sabres roster.  Buffalo is dead last in offense as they are on pace to be the worst team in NHL history.

Tyler Ennis remains the Buffalo Sabres hottest player right now, with goals in consecutive games leading into tonight’s contest.  His play has earned him the right to center the Buffalo Sabres top line, as Ted Nolan has demoted to Cody Hodgson to the third line in an attempt to pick his game back up.

The only injury to speak of for either team is Alex Sulzer, as he remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury and is riding the injured reserve ferry.    The Sabres have lost 83 man games due to injury so far this season.

Topics: Buffalo Sabres, Pregame, Senators

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  • Michael McBurney

    Huh? According to Nolan’s own commentary, none of Moulson, Hodgson or Stafford were “demoted”, but rather the coach acknowledged that this so-called top line hasn’t gelled so he talked with them and it was decided to go with “three scoring lines” rather than 1 top line. The lack of gelling sounds about right too (the Moulson/Hodgson combo hasn’t exactly looked full of either instant or developed chemistry), with all three players having 3 points each in the last 10 games.

    The lineup change isn’t about Hodgson being demoted, it’s about the fact the line hasn’t worked (well, maybe other than for the odd shift such as the one which produced an easy one-timer setup for Ennis stepping onto the ice – heck, such an easy setup for Ennis that Hodgson, on the bench, earned the 2nd assist.).

    • Jes

      3 scoring lines? I don’t know about that Mike. Nolan’s not going to single out his leading scorer like that and may say this and that but in all honesty Hodgson has been demoted.

      • Michael McBurney

        Yep, Nolan spoke of changing it up to have three scoring lines. And yep, it’s possible he merely didn’t want to single out Hodgson as specifically being demoted (though he apparently doesn’t have a problem singling out Leino who, incidentally, is entirely scratched for the game apparently). Either way, I’m glad enough Nolan gave the lines a decent run/change, but equally glad he’s now finally broken up the Moulson/Hodgson duet (I didn’t see it working after the first game). For who has been demoted, I’ll wait to see how the ice-time goes these next games.

        From the Sabre’s website, Nolan’s exact words are quoted as having been:

        “Our top line had a little trouble, maybe the chemistry wasn’t quite right so we talked to them and we decided that instead of having one [scoring line], we’ll try to have three,” Nolan said. “We have to get this thing turned around together. It’s not going to be one or two individuals, it’s going to have to be a collective response. Hopefully this works.”

        • Jes

          You have good points. But I disagree with you about the duel of Hodgson and Moulson not working after game one. They were great together before Nolan came in.
          Another problem is that the Buffalo franchise is treating Hodgson like a true number one center and honestly he’s not, he’s a number two at best. That has to be dealt with in the offseason.

          • Michael McBurney

            Without wishing to make a neg reflection on either player, I haven’t seen the Mouslon/Hodgson connection you have. Also haven’t seen that duet have a genuine click with any of the wingers tried out, and that’s gonna have an effect on the duet of course. Oh well.

            Speaking as a (Canuck days) Hodgson fan, I’d readily go with seeing him as a 2c rather than 1c, though I’d bet more on him being a genuine top notch 2c. You look back on a guy such as Henrik Sedin and where he was at same time in his own career, and Hodgson’s stats beat him out across the board (defefensively and offensively). Then look to Hodgson’s work ethic and character rep (other than the Canuck GM’s post-trade commentary) throughout his career and yeah, I can see a top notch 2c at worst.

            With the $4.25 x 6 yr contract, I’m wondering if Sabres/Hodgson may have the same 2c long term down-to-earth perspective (ie: they aren’t pie in sky seeing him as the 1c forever either)? If Nolan et. al. could get MORE out of the supporting cast maybe they’ll wait for the current youth corps to develop a 1c but otherwise I’m with you – a true 1c in the offseason needs to be on the agenda. Please!