It’s fitting that the Buffalo Sabres are coming to the Bridgestone Arena for a tilt starting at 7:00 P.M. since the Tennessee Titans are making the trip up to Buffalo to battle the Bills this Sunday. The stats of the two hockey clubs are almost identical with Buffalo getting the slight nod in PK%, something the Predators are known to be statistically better than most teams.
Buffalo will also be looking to exact some revenge after one of the most stellar comebacks in Predators history in a game that forever engrained the Nashville-bred Blake Geoffrion in the minds of Predator fans last season. Geoffrion’s hat trick in the HSBC Arena capped off by the Erat overtime winner equated to the pivotal moment when Nashville started to take the reins and power down the stretch with an unbelievable run for the 5th spot in the Western conference.
Last Year’s Series: 1-0-0 (0-0-0 Home, 1-0-0 Away)
Last Season’s Video Recaps:
Looking at the Sabres: Playing the second half of back-to-back games, the Buffalo Sabres will no doubt be short shifting their players. After getting beat by Detroit 4-1, the Sabres will also be looking for some bounce-back.
Enroth has been serviceable in the absence of All-Star goaltender Ryan Miller, but what has been the Achilles heel of the Sabres has been discipline. Some of the top tier talent for the Buffalo Sabres has been making a parade to the penalty box. Vanek, Stafford and Roy all have to start playing headier and stay out of the box to help contribute to the team’s offense (13th in the NHL).
Looking at the Predators: After the roller-coaster ride of the 6-5 win against Vancouver, the Preds coaching staff came away from that game with a bittersweet sentiment that maybe the Predators didn’t exactly deserve to pull a win out on Thursday.
While this offensive punch is just what the Predators need right now, the faltering of Pekka Rinne in net allowing 4 goals in the second period, has caused concern for the Predators faithful. The bright spot was the play of Mike Fisher with Craig Smith and Martin Erat on his flanks. Fisher earned the NHL Network Performer of the Night for his 2 goal effort.
For the Sabres to win: Simply put, stay out of the box. If the Sabres can keep their deadly snipers of Roy, Vanek, Stafford and Gerbe out of penalty trouble, they will be a difficult team to defend against. Coupled with the impressive, slightly over-paid blue-line led by Ehrhoff and Myers, Buffalo could make it a shooting gallery for Nashville. On the back-to-back, expect Enroth to still start, but if it gets shaky, look for former Milwaukee Admiral Drew MacIntyre to take over (you never know, we could see Ryan Miler in as well).
For the Predators to win: Build on the momentum of the Vancouver win and feed off the Bridgestone crowd. The Predators are ranked 8th on the Power Play and with the penchant for Buffalo to go to the penalty box, Nashville needs to take full advantage of this. Nashville also needs to stay out of the penalty box since their PK% isn’t what it has been in years past.
Pekka Rinne will most likely get the start for the Predators, but after his play the other night and the backsliding performance over the last six games, Lindback would be a great start to take some of the workload off Rinne, and in turn light a fire under Rinne to start performing like his counterpart.
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Stay HardCore, friends