The Morning Skate: Sabres vs. Ducks

The Buffalo Sabres finally drop the puck on the 2011-12 NHL season this afternoon when as they take on the Anaheim Ducks as part of the 2011 NHL Premiere. The Morning Skate will go full format for the regular season, the scaled-back TMS used for the preseason is due to the swollen rosters and lack of stats.

Buffalo has a tough draw for the Premiere compared to some past match ups. They will play two of the favorites to emerge from the West between Anaheim today and Los Angeles tomorrow. A slow start won’t be accepted well in Buffalo and these two games will offer a barometer to see what you should expect from the Sabres this season.

The powerplay came along well towards the end of the preseason and the lines appear to have gelled quite well. How they will fare in a regular season game is the unknown factor, but the look of three solid scoring lines should instill confidence in Sabres fans.

Highlighted match up

The toughest match up for the Sabres will be how to neutralize the Ducks top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. All three are tough, nasty players who can score goals at ease. Expect to see Tyler Myers and Robyn Regehr see quite a bit of time against this line with Paul Gaustad’s line also checking the big guns. If the Sabres can shut down these three they will likely have success in today’s game.

Projected goaltenders

BUF: Ryan Miller 2010-11: 66 GP, 34-22-8, 2.59 GAA, .916 SV%

ANA: Jonas Hiller 2010-11: 49 GP, 26-16-3, 2.56 GAA, .924 SV%

Last meeting 12/21/2010, HSBC Arena, Sabres 5 – Ducks 2

Expect both teams to play with a lot of energy, they have had plenty of time to adjust to the time change and will be amped to get the season started. Anaheim will have the crowd on their side as Teemu Selanne returns home alongside Saku Koivu. Ville Leino is Buffalo’s lone Finn and he doesn’t have the star power of the other two, so expect a pro-Ducks crowd. The Sabres will need a quick start to build confidence with the new roster and potentially win some fans to their cause. Expect special teams to play a huge role in this game as both teams try to establish some footing on a new season.

Double Minors: Sabres vs. Adler Mannheim and stupid helmet numbers

Rather than just offering analysis of a game I merely listened to I will present a different point of view on today’s game between the Sabres and Adler Mannheim.

Boy, those helmet numbers sure look stupid.

I expected little from this game rather than a unique way for European hockey fans to see the Sabres. Adler Mannheim was obviously outmatched in this game as they gave up three first-period goals as the Sabres rolled 8-3. The Eagles presented a challenge in the early going, creating a  few chances on Jhonas Enroth, but couldn’t skate with the Sabres for 60 minutes.

Luke Adam and Tyler Ennis each scored twice, although Adam’s second goal was awarded to Thomas Vanek. Christian Ehrhoff scored on his native soil, as well. From the sound of it, The Ville Leino, Brad Boyes and Ennis line was deadly for the entire game, something that will hopefully carry over to Friday and Saturday.

The overall atmosphere of this game is what should truly be taken away. There was little doubt that the Sabres would be capable of winning the game. But applaud the fans of Mannheim as they packed the standing room seats 90 minutes before puck drop and chanted and sang for the entire game. Not once did I hear silence from that section, a truly marvelous feature to any sporting event, particularly hockey.

I am just as guilty as every other Sabres fan, I am not one to stand up an lead my section in a “Sabres on the warpath” chant for a few minutes, let alone an entire game. Of course, the fans in the F’N Center probably wouldn’t even carry the chant. Too many people are sitting on their hands. It is about time the crowds for home Sabres games make a difference, I hope the regime and roster changes help spark that in the 18,690 each night. Continue reading

The Morning Skate: Sabres vs. Adler Mannheim

The Sabres European Vacation is in full swing as they prepare to play their final preseason game against Adler Mannheim this afternoon.

The Sabres have had a few days to enjoy Germany and adjust to the time change after arriving over the weekend. A few practices and a stop to a U.S. military hospital has certainly kept the team busy. Now the actual business portion of the trip begins.

Jhonas Enroth will be starting today’s game and the Buffalo lineup will be slightly different than the final stateside preseason games were.With Derek Roy healthy, Lindy Ruff has shuffled his lines in order to keep chemistry while icing a balanced attack. According to John Vogl’s report, the lines will look something like this: Continue reading