Everyone is starting to run out of answers regarding the Sabres’ play as of late. The line combos aren’t working, play in goal has been average and injuries are mounting. Buffalo is 1-4-1 in their last six and have shown little in recent games.
A trip to Nashville probably isn’t the best medicine for a struggling club. The Preds are sitting in 11th out West, but play a stifling style that isn’t going to be conducive for solving the Sabres’ scoring woes. On the bright side, the Sabres play much better hockey on the road. So they’re got that going for them. Which is nice.
Ryan Miller is expected to make his return to the crease tonight. It will be his first action since being concussed/whiplashed in a collision with Milan Lucic on November 12. It should be noted that Miller’s play appeared to be taking an uptick based on his final two periods against Winnipeg and his first period play in Boston. Hopefully whatever he was battling has been expelled from his game and he will return to the form we saw over the first three weeks of the season.
Of note, the Predators Tweeted that Buffalo native Chris Mueller will make his season debut tonight. Cue the Bucky column on the Buffalo boy now. I’ll toss in and extra five bucks if he manages to hit on Tim Kennedy’s whereabouts in tomorrow’s piece too.
The Sabres have been bad from top to bottom as of late, so there isn’t one thing one could point to as a key for tonight. Obviously controlling the play and hitting the net would be a wonderful place to start given Buffalo’s recent scoring woes. Getting Thomas Vanek back on track would be helpful too, perhaps removing the king of bad angle shots from his line would be a good starting block there.
Ryan Miller. While it is inconclusive if Miller is getting the nod tonight, his play could end up being crucial for the Sabres’ success. Jhonas Enroth has been admirable in relief for Miller, while he has had some shaky outings over the last week, quite often Enroth has not gotten the necessary goal support to win. If Miller keeps the Preds to two or less he will have done all he needs to allow his team to get a victory.
BUF: Ryan Miller 11GP 5-6-1, 2.86 GAA, .909 SV%
NSH: Pekka Rinne 23GP 10-8-4, 2.57 GAA, .921 SV%
*stats to come later*