The Morning Skate: Sabres vs. Penguins

Coming of a disappointing home opener, the Sabres will need to bounce back quickly as they travel to Pittsburgh tonight for the first of four meetings with the Penguins.

Buffalo will also be looking to exact revenge a bit of revenge against the Penguins; Buffalo has lost six-straight against Pittsburgh. The last Buffalo victory came on December 29, 2009. A dismal effort on the power play by Buffalo doomed them last night. I expect to see a few changes made to shore up the giveaways that cost the Sabres last night. Of note, this is the first of Buffalo’s league-high 22 back-to-back sets. They started 2-0-0 after their trip to Europe last week.

I would like to see Lindy Ruff shuffle his lineup a bit this evening. I think this would be a good opportunity to get Jhonas Enroth his first start along with inserting Mike Weber in against a physical opponent. I fully expect the, “Ryan had a long layoff so we thought he could go again tonight” excuse as to why Miller starts the back-to-back set. But Enroth needs to get in a game soon, this seems like the perfect opportunity. I would put Weber in because the Penguins are going to play a more physical game and Marc-Andre Gragnani struggled last night.

The Penguins will be wearing their blue alternate jerseys this evening but will be without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. While this will make the matchups for Buffalo a bit easier, the Penguins had no trouble steaming to the playoffs without their two marquee players last season. Pittsburgh is riding a hot start from the league-leader in goals, James Neal. The Pens are first in the East as they have jumped to a 3-0-2 start.

Highlighted Matchup

Tyler Myers/Robyn Regehr vs James Neal: Neal has caught fire early for the Penguins and is the main source of offense for a Penguins team missing their two marquee players. Neal has four goals through five games and should see a healthy dose of the Sabres top defensive pairing. Myers and Regehr matched Eric Staal for much of last night, but the match tailed off as the special teams issue heated up. Expect Ruff to stick with this match for most of the game.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Jhonas Enroth 2010-11: 14 GP, 9-2-2, 2.73 GAA, .907 SV%

PIT: Marc-Andre Fleury 3 GP, 3-0-0, 2.59 GAA, .911 SV%

2010-11 Season Series BUF 0-4-0

11/24/2010, HSBC Arena, Sabres 0 – Penguins 1

12/11/2010, HSBC Arena, Sabres 2 – Penguins 5

2/4/2011, CONSOL Energy Center, Sabres 2 – Penguins 3

3/8/2011, CONSOL Energy Center, Sabres 1 – Penguins 3

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