Another day, another big game. But is this game anymore important than the others? Most would answer, yes indeed it is.
The Buffalo Sabres, (39-29-10) are in town to battle the Carolina Hurricanes, (38-30-10) and a win would put the Canes back into the "Elite Eight" of the Eastern Conference. A loss would not eliminate the team, but would certainly make things tougher moving forward.
If the New York Rangers lose to the Flyers today, a win would put the Canes in seventh place.
Carolina has been one of the hottest teams in the league recently. They have won three in a row, six games in their last seven, and seven out their last nine.
Buffalo has been playing great hockey for the past couple of months and has moved up significantly in the standings since the All Star break. Most recently, they are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 6-2-2 in their last 10.
This is another battle between two teams and two fanbases that don't like each other very much.
While unofficial, look for the Hurricanes to start the same players they have in recent games. It's doubtful they will change anything at this point in time unless there is an injury.
- Stillman, Staal, Cole
- Skinner, Ruutu, Jokinen
- LaRose, Sutter, Bowman
- Tlusty, Dwyer, Samson
- Gleason, Corvo
- Pitkanen, McBain
- Joslin, Allen
Of course the defensive pairings will be mixed and matched as needed.
Again, it's unofficial but you can bet your last dollar that Cam Ward will start his career high 71st start of the season.
|2010 - Cam Ward
For roster info you can print and take with you to the RBC, check out Hockeymom's game day guide.
The Sabres put Ryan Miller on the shelf this past week so Jhonas Enroth and Patrick Lalime made this road trip. Miller is officially listed as day-to-day.
Enroth played last night in the OT loss to Washington, but my guess is that he will play again because it's been awhile since Lalime has seen any action.
|2010 - Jhonas Enroth
|2010 - Patrick Lalime
The Sabres are led by Thomas Vanek, Brad Boyes, and Drew Stafford, with Jason Pominville and rookie Tyler Ennis close behind.
For more info about them, check out our SBN partner, Die By The Blade.
Pro Hockey Talk has a bubble team breakdown up which also might be of interest.
So far this season, every game between these clubs has been decided by just one goal. In January, the Canes lost 3-2, but won both games in March, 1-0 in Buffalo, and 3-2 in OT here in Raleigh.
Cam Ward started each of those games and posted a 2-1 record along with a .952 save percentage, 1.69 GAA and one shutout.
Last season, the Sabres won the season series, 2-1-1.
Finally for something a bit different, Luke DeCock is calling for Caniacs to "Take Back What's Theirs". Not that he's calling for a bloodbath or anything.
There is an early start time of 5 p.m. and the game will be televised locally by FS Carolinas. It's fan appreciation week, so come early, listen to free music, and collect your Jeff Skinner wall cling.
Brian and I will be reporting from press row on the open game thread/live blog starting at 4:30.