Game Preview: Ottawa Senators @ Buffalo Sabres

It's only fitting that two days after an impressive comeback victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators are waiting and eager to go five-for-five against the Buffalo Sabres. While the hosts have gotten their offense into a neat groove, the visitors have struggled but hey, that's what we're here for isn't it?

Due to Buffalo's schedule and the fact that they play Tampa Bay tomorrow, wouldn't the team be wise to just toss in the towel for this one and live to fight another day? After all, it doesn't matter how hard or little the Sabres work because the Senators have had a solution each time.

The latest was Daniel Alfredsson scoring a last-minute goal to erase the fact that Buffalo had fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the final frame. Forgive my negative outlook, but it's galling to keep sound optimism because of how the series has gone. With a seven-point edge and two games in hand, a win for Buffalo would do wonders for the Division lead and team spirit.

Ten additional thoughts on the game:

  • Everything that Ryan Miller has delivered hasn't included the Senators at all. January 6, 2009, was the last time he took down the Canadian club and Brian Elliott? He's just 7-0-0 in his career against the Sabres and coming off consecutive shutouts. I suppose statistics don't change anything at this point.
  • I hate to admit this, but despite all of my hatred towards Ottawa, I'm actually a fan of Jason Spezza's. Other than the fact that he represented my hometown team, the Windsor Spitfires, his skill-set is impeccable and he's been playing like a man possessed since returning from injury.
  • Steve Montador drew an assist on Paul Gaustad's equalizer against the Canadiens. That's all well but what was he doing out there in a last-minute frenzy? A coach's hunch?
  • Raffi Torres and Patrick Kaleta are questionable for this match. The two players I was actually looking forward to seeing because of their physical edges and both are out of commission. Great. Henrik Tallinder is also questionable but so is Senators' defenseman Filip Kuba. I'm not going to bother searching his stats against Buffalo because I'm sure they're impressive like everyone else'.
  • Anton Volchenkov hit Simon Gagne with a questionable check on Tuesday and the Flyers forward went after him as Ottawa scored on the fly shortly afterwards. It was a clean play as Gagne turned at the very last second and Volchenkov couldn't stop at that point. I realize Kaleta and Torres may not dress, but Paul Gaustad or Craig Rivet have to let him and the other Senators know that they won't be shoved around. Rivet didn't back off in Tampa Bay last week after Chris Butler was hit a little late. It worked and we won.
  • Speaking of physical defenseman, Andy Sutton is another person the forwards have to be aware of. He loves to crush people and he does it relentlessly. I wonder if this is what Tyler Myers will look like when he bulks up totally. The rookie is actually taller than Sutton, so that would be a sight for sore eyes.
  • Buffalo's powerplay has struck in five of the past seven games after going goalless in seven straight games. That's not a misprint.
  • Alex Kovalev is out the line-up and Ryan Shannon will substitute in on the second line with Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen. I don't know whether to laugh or cry because Shannon will probably have some sort of impact tonight.
  • Jochen Hecht is four goals away from setting a new career-high for himself with 23. We can use a couple of those unsuspecting, rough-angle tallies this evening. Jason Pominville has been heating up himself with 11 points in eight matches. Does this bring back memories Alfredsson? I had to go there.
  • He's no Myers, but Erik Karlsson plays above his age to an extent and he set up Alfredsson's game-winner in the February meeting with a neat slap-pass. Pressure him and he'll likely misplay the puck, but give him space, and he'll take advantage.

It's been almost two months since Buffalo has seen Ottawa but avoiding them forever is out of the question. What's good is that we, the supporters, have experienced every form of devastation and shouldn't be surprised by anything that occurs with the Senators. We've got nothing to lose. Unfortunately, the Sabres do have something to lose and that's the Northeast Division.

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