Just the Facts:
The Time: 7pm EST
The Place: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
Place to Watch: NESN, MSG+, ESPN+/SportsNet+
Place to Listen: 98.5 The Sports Hub
An Opposing Viewpoint: Die By The Blade
Know Your Enemy:
- The Sabres are 7-7-1 on the season, which is good for 7th in Division. They lost their most recent game to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 4-0 shut out. It’s true, they have highlight reel on YouTube and everything.
- The Sabres’ goal leader so far this year is Jeff Skinner; who has 7 goals in 15 games. He also leads the Sabres in points with 13.
- Casey Mittelstadt and Tage Thompson are tied with 12 points, though Thompson was able to make it an even 6 goals, 6 assists.
- The Sabres have been rolling through goaltenders like they’re made of copy paper; trying to find the perfect fit. The Devon Levi experiment is under .900 SV% and thus that’s not working, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen meanwhile has started the most games with a .903 SV%, and Eric Comrie showed up a couple of times and has the lead of it in net; with a .914 SV%...but now he’s injured. Sheesh.
So! Do you know what form of Sabres team is showing up tonight at KeyBank? Because I sure don’t!
And that, for most Buffalo fans, is the problem.
The Sabres hit the ice this season with expectations sky-high, and have mostly spent the entire time where they’d be the October Sabres; a period where they get everybody’s hopes up and then dash them...mostly playing actual .500 hockey through their first 15 games. They’re not nearly as bad defensively as they were last season, but now the high-flying dynamism of their forwards seems either concentrated in a select group of players, or not at all. It doesn’t help that their goaltending has been kind of meh, or that they’ve been asked to play some track meet-style hockey against any number of teams; good or bad, both sides show up and unravel their goalies’ Save-Percentages for fun. This should lead to entertaining hockey, but it’s mostly just confusing when they can play the same team within three days of each other and come back with wildly different results.
That said, Boston could and should use this game as a teaching tool for certain players.
Somewhat like the Sabres, the Bruins are still trying to make the best of their early season injuries, which has led them to what I am referring to as “somewhat positive results”, as the Islanders game showed in spades...but the Canadiens game showed that there’s room for improvement. The B’s need a get-right game specifically for their backcheck and their transition game, which was far too loose against the next generation of Hab player, and a game against a team that has been otherwise completely impossible to predict beyond generally being able to score if given enough ice is a hard test for just such an aspect of the game.
This team may not be clicking yet, but they are talented, and that can be just as dangerous as any Eastern Conference titan.
Should be a good one! Stay tuned!