Buffalo Sabres And Minnesota Wild Fight To End Losing Streaks


The Buffalo Sabres and the Minnesota Wild will face off tonight in First Niagara Center and both will be looking to end their respective losing streaks. Buffalo is on an 8 game skid, and the Wild are on a 4 game streak. Both teams have had lackluster performances as of late from certain areas in particular, and each will certainly be doing their best to exploit the opposite team’s defects.

Sabres Scope

The Buffalo Sabres will be having Chris Stewart returning to the forward lineup and Nikita Zadorov back on defense. As of late, the Sabres have not been having great offensive output (and yes I know that it hasn’t been great all season) and it has affected the morale of not only the forwards, but the goaltenders. I for one find it difficult to watch Enroth and Neuvirth get lit up night after night and not having any offensive push the other way. It’s not only embarrassing, but it makes for lackluster hockey. Two nights ago against the Red Wings, I was watching the forwards closely and most of them look dejected and ticked off; Zemgus Girgensons in particular looked the most irritated.

With Chris Stewart returning, the Buffalo Sabres will regain some grit and some slight offensive pressure. Over his past few games before he was ailed with sickness, Stewart was on a semi consistent point scoring basis. Not only that, but he seemed to be having some chemistry with Phil Varone. Stewart is a big body and will need to be a presence against the Wild. They have high scoring forwards that have been putting up average numbers, but have the potential to light up any goaltender. Stewart’s presence in both zones will be a key for Buffalo Sabre success.

Wild Scope

The Wild have had a number of problems over the course of their season, but it’s clear that two issues are pungent scents to Minnesota Fans. The goaltending has been terrible since it began to fall apart early in the season. Darcy Kuemper had a red hot start, but has not lived up to his potential he was projected to have. Niklas Backstrom has not regained his former starting ability either and it has left the Wild having to make a trade for Devan Dubnyk and he will be starting tonight.

The other annoyance for Wild fans is the lack of offensive output by a team stacked with offensive powerhouses like Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikko Koivu, and even Thomas Vanek. As Sabres fans we all know too well the streaky scoring habits of both Pominville and Vanek, but on a team as deep as the Wild, all of these players should be flourishing offensively. The wild have the weapons, but due to the lack of goaltending prowess the offense has suffered as well.

Game Prediction

If the Buffalo Sabres can get to the net quickly tonight and score one or two goals on Dubnyk in the first period, then they will get in the heads of the Wild and have an advantage. The Sabres goaltending will most likely be stellar as it has been, but the offense needs to put a lot of pressure on the Wild goalie.

I predict a close game of 3-1. It will go in the Sabres favor if they put high pressure to the net, but it will go to the Wild’s favor if the offense flounders yet again.

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