The Morning Skate: Sabres vs. Panthers

The Buffalo Sabres may still be searching for their first “60-minute” effort at home, but they are no longer searching for their first home win.

Lindy Ruff may have said it best when he said they needed to get a win for the new room and get that out of the way. It is always fun when Ruff shares those candid thoughts. The Sabres will be looking for home win number two this evening against the Florida Panthers.

The Sabres will have played half of their contests against the NHL’s two Florida teams after tonight. After dropping their home-and-home against Tampa Bay, getting two points tonight would give Buffalo an even split in the four games.

Buffalo has started to find a bit of scoring support outside of The Subway Line. Brad Boyes has goals in two-straight and the grind line of Gerbe, Gaustad and Kaleta have become productive in their own right. While Buffalo’s second scoring line of Leino, Roy and Stafford remain in a funk but will prove to be a dangerous compliment to Buffalo’s top line of Vanek, Adam and Pominville.

A lot is being made of the lack of production coming from Leino and his line mates. However, it still seems early to be labeling Leino as a bust and overpaid. He and his line mates likely need a game in which they get a goal or two to get things rolling.

The only evident change in the Panthers’ lineup will likely come between the pipes. Jose Theodore suffered a minor injury and Jacob Markstrom has filled in admirably. Markstrom is a blue-chip prospect who takes up a lot of net. Where Theodore is a smaller, athletic goaltender; Markstrom is a big body who will play a technical game similar to Henrik Lundqvist.

Some fans in Buffalo seem to think there is a goalie controversy brewing, if anything Jhonas Enroth is developing into a 1B goaltender to compliment Ryan Miller. While Enroth’s performance on Thursday was outstanding, it probably doesn’t merit a second-straight start. Suffice it to say, he will certainly see time next week.

Highlighted Matchup

Buffalo penalty kill vs. Florida power play. Florida’s power play has had a solid run to start the season. This is due, in large part, to the numerous new acquisitions they made in the offseason. The Sabres have done a great job killing penalties this season, it is likely the greatest strength of the team at this point. When the Panthers power play has clicked they have succeeded, the Sabres will be tasked with shutting the unit down.

Projected Goaltenders

BUF: Ryan Miller 7GP, 4-3-0, 2.01 GAA, .933% SV%

FAL: Jacob Markstrom 4GP, 2-2-0, 2.11 GAA, .945 SV%

Last Game BUF leads series 1-0-0

10/20/2011, BankAtlantic Center, Sabres 3 – Panthers 0


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