The Buffalo Sabres kick off the season part of their season with a game that was rescheduled due to weather back in January. It’s okay, Mr. Bettman – we’ll just forfeit this one? No – team’s gotta play? Okay then!
Tonight’s Opponent: The Carolina Hurricanes
Record: 26-22-9, 61 pts.
Standings: Twelfth in Easstern Conference
Current Streak: Lost one (for what that’s worth)
As I look at the Eastern Conference standings, I see that Carolina is twelfth, only 3 points behind 8th-place Detroit but in the unenviable position of having to leap-frog over Washington, Ottawa and Columbus.
And yet, the Hurricanes are still a whopping 23 points better than Buffalo ! Twenty-three! I don’t even know how that is possible.
Well, actually I guess I can see how that is possible. After all, Carolina has scored 144 goals on the season, compared to Buffalo’s 110. And even though Carolina has given up 158 goals, putting them at -14 for the season so far, the Sabres have given up 172, good for a -62! For all intensive purposes, the ‘Canes score right about as much as they allow, meaning they are the definition of a team hanging around the .500 mark. Doesn’t sound like much, but the Sabres would kill to be close to .500 at this point.
Former Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera has been having a really solid season with Carolina, as he is currently their third-leading scorer (9-23-32) and boasts the second-best plus/minus rating for players who have skated more than 40 games (+5). And lest you forget, Sekera was a bit of a Sabres-killer the last time these two teams played, scoring a goal and adding two assists to help Carolina defeat Buffalo 5-3. Another ex-Sabre having a nice season with Carolina is Nathan Gerbe, he of the 12-14-26 statline. It’s good to see these two enjoying their change in scenery, and I’m willing to bet they will be ready to burn their former team again tonight.
Carolina has owned the Sabres for the past two seasons, so don’t be surprised to see them celebrate on Buffalo’s home ice tonight. The game should be close, but with Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, and the Staal brothers at their disposal, the ‘Canes have enough firepower to keep Buffalo’s losing streak alive and well.