The Buffalo Sabres open up a three-game Western Conference road trip tonight against the Anaheim Ducks. Can the blue and gold keep its points streak alive?
The Buffalo Sabres will walk into the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, tonight with one goal in mind: keep earning points.
Currently, the Sabres are one of the NHL’s biggest surprises. Having earned at 11 of a possible 12 points to start their season, the Sabres find themselves in first place in the Atlantic Division, and second overall in both the Eastern Conference and the entire league. Calling the Buffalo Sabres the most pleasant surprise of the young season is no understatement . . . but things are about to get real, as we at Sabre Noise have detailed here.
Buffalo begins a stretch of three games in four nights against Western Conference foes tonight when they stare down the Anaheim Ducks. This road trip will go a long way toward telling us what type of team the Sabres really are, and a win tonight would send a strong message to the rest of the league that this team is for real. Here are our three keys to a victory against the Ducks.
1. Patience on the power play
The Sabres have one of the league’s best power plays. The Ducks have the tenth best penalty kill in the league. Something’s gotta give, folks! If the Sabres players try to do too much with the puck, rather than continue the excellent puck movement we have seen so many times already this season, they will be playing right into Anaheim’s hands. Given just how many weapons the Sabres have on their power play right now, however, you have to like Buffalo’s chances if they can keep their cool while enjoying the advantage tonight.
2. Get the puck in Jack Eichel’s mitts
Raise your hand if you are surprised that Eichel is the Sabres’ leading scorer right now? No hands up? Unsurprising. Eichel is a stud, and you know every opposing defense in the league will be aware of him every time he is on the ice. The good news is that the Sabres are getting scoring from a variety of lines right now, so gone are the days where Sabres fans had to feel as if the entire outcome of the game lived and died with Eichel’s line. Even so, there is little doubt that the Buffalo Sabres are easier to beat when Eichel is in a more deferential mood. The good news? Jack has been playing far more aggressive hockey ever since he coasted through an OT loss against Columbus.
3. Get bodies in front of the net
The Anaheim Ducks have been the recipients of some great goaltending this season. John Gibson has been an absolute rock, and even though former Sabres netminder Ryan Miller has only played in one game thus far, he only allowed one goal on 27 shots. Obviously, the Sabres want to take a high number of quality shots tonight, but more importantly, when you are facing solid goaltending, you need to make life more difficult for the opposing guy in between the pipes. Buffalo must get bodies in front of the net all night long and hope for screened shots, tips and rebounds, all of which are a great goalie’s nightmare.
A win tonight would be a fantastic opening statement for the Buffalo Sabres on this road trip! Let’s go Buffalo!