Buffalo completely dominated the Hurricanes last season. Carolina was 0-3-1 versus the Sabres last season and they were outscored 19-11. Earlier this season, Carolina used a third period explosion to win 6-2 at home.
Carolina, who played very well in October, ran into some problems in November. Erik Cole was out for several games. Scott Walker was out for several games. Andrew "Trade Bait" Ladd was out for a few games. Defenseman Nic Wallin was out for a few games. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg missed a few games with some immigration problems. The whole team forgot how to pass and shoot and skate. November was ugly, and they're glad it's over. Although still in the top two in the league in goals scored, Carolina hit a very dry spell in late November. As I detailed the other day, Carolina went 2-5-0 in a seven game span and was outscored 27-13 in that span.
Carolina is a very high-powered and dangerous team if they get hot. The only problem is that they never got hot in November. Thankfully, they never got ice cold either. They never put together a streak of more than two wins or more than two losses.
Buffalo, on the other hand has been the paragon of "streaky". Prior to Wednesday's loss to the Blues, the Sabres had won five games in a row and had outscored their opponents 18-6. Just before that, they had a six game span where they went 1-5-0 and were outscored 15-7.
According to the Buffalo News, the Sabres will be without Adam Mair, who is recovering from an ankle injury. He could go tonight but they're saving him for their upcoming west coast road trip.
The Sabres have been juggling their lines to deal with injuries, but tonight, the Canes should be facing a top line of Jochen Hecht/Tim Connolly/Jason Pominville. Or is that their second line? Either way, this is a very skilled line, and Carolina will have to step up on defense while also staying out of the box.
In other Sabres news, Brian "Soupy" Campbell has given the captaincy for the month of December.
Derek Roy should be back in the lineup for the Sabres, but Dmitri Kalinin will still be out.
Carolina will be playing without Defensemen Mike Commodore (broken finger) and "Avi" Tanabe (flu). I'm hoping that Andrew Ladd goes to the press box and Trevor Letowski is given a shot. Ladd's play has been pretty uninspired lately. Frankly, I'd really like to see him traded out West for one of those young puck moving defensemen like J-M Liles or Matt Carle. Ladd was a fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft behind Ovechkin, Malkin and Cam Barker. He has a tremendous amount of "untapped potential", but it's getting kind of old waiting for it to come to fruition.
For tonight's matchup, I would expect Peter Laviolette to give Cam Ward the night off after playing last night. Johnny Crackers hasn't been very good lately, or really at all. However, he's going to have to be the man tonight. Until Carolina calls Michael Leighton up from Albany, Crackers is the #2 guy.
Although Carolina's PP and PK woes continue, last night they found a way to find a way. Despite being badly outshot, they turned the ship in the right direction and had the advantage in "scoring chances". Unlike the other night against Philly when they had 41 shots, but very few scoring chances, they had good chances and had quality shots. And they got some bounces. Sometimes, a lucky bounce or two is all a team needs to get back in their groove. I hope that's the trick.
Kevin BFLOBLOG will be at HSBC with his son. The Sabres usually win when his son is there. Nothing personal against the little guy, but I hope his luck runs out tonight.
For Sabres commentary, visit BFLOBLOG, as well as these other blogger-types:
Kevin BFLOBLOG is one of the good guys. He roots for the wrong team, but he's a good writer and a good hockey fan. And he respects the competition.
While I often disagree with Tom Sabre Rattling when it comes to analysis of Canes games or players, I don't have a problem with him. He doesn't like the Canes but he doesn't use the third grade tactic of calling them names either. He's just a passionate fan with a healthy dislike for our boys in red and black.
I'd gladly drink beer with either one of these guys. I can't speak for or endorse the others. I just know that they're active Sabres bloggers.
For giggles, here's proof that the Sabres are pretty cool guys. Although this video sparked a little bit of debate, the whole thing is clearly staged. And funny.
The Buffalo Sabres: Can they pick up the pieces
And this piece about Andrew Peters:
Okay. That's enough. Puck drop at 7:00. Full write-up to follow.