Survival may be the word of the week for the Buffalo Sabres. Survival in the sense of team health and survival on the ice.
Buffalo continues a rather lengthy road trip tonight in Detroit and will have numerous trying road dates throughout this week. In addition to facing the Wings, the Sabres will be in Chicago, St. Louis and Winnipeg. They close the trip with the Devils and Canadiens. Not exactly the schedule a struggling team would want to see.
The Sabres played pretty strong hockey when they beat Toronto on Friday night. However, on Saturday, they reverted to the form which has dominated for much of the season. Another missed opportunity at building a winning streak was lost and tonight doesn’t necessarily offer a lay-up either.
The Red Wings dominated the Sabres earlier this season. It would appear that same result could occur tonight. Buffalo’s defense is wearing thin and lack their top defenders as they prepare to face one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL.
Two points will be a tough chore for the Sabres, but it would give them four in their last three games. At some point the Sabres need to find a foundation for a run at the playoffs. This road trip might do the trick.
Buffalo defense. When Mike Weber and MAG are looking at top-four minutes, there is a problem. Without Brayden McNabb and Robyn Regehr, the Sabres are forced to dig into the Rochester honey pot once again. Andrej Sekera is expected to play with Joe Finley as the scratch. Still, Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold will get the big minutes for Buffalo while Weber, MAG, Sekera and T.J. Brennan round out the six defensemen. This group will need plenty of help this evening against a dangerous hockey club.
BUF – Ryan Miller 26 GP 11-12-2, 2.97 GAA, .903 SV%
DET – Jimmy Howard 37 GP 26-10-1, 2.04 GAA, .924 SV%
12/2/2011, First Niagara Center, Sabres 1 – Red Wings 4