The Buffalo Sabres will get a chance early in the season to work on their tan with their first Florida road trip of the season starting on Thursday. The Sabres will take on the new look Florida Panthers, a team that made more wholesale changes to their roster than the Sabres did. The Panthers are 3-2 on the season and they are coming off a loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
For the Sabres, there could be a lineup change tonight as WGR 550's Paul Hamilton was reporting that Mike Weber was seeing some time with the top six defensemen and Marc-Andre Gragnani was the extra man out of the lineup. Gragnani struggled over the weekend, but was given the chance to make up for those games on Tuesday night. In the game, he was a +1 with an assist so it will be hard to see Gragnani sitting tonight.
The Panthers have been on the road for most of the season thus far, much like the Sabres have been, and tonight's game will be the team's second home game out of their first six. Panthers forward Kris Versteeg is looking forward getting back in front of the home fans, from George Richards of the Miami Herald,
"It will be nice to get home and sleep in your own bed," winger Kris Versteeg said afterward. "Back-to-back games can wear on you. We need to regroup. The true test is how you bounce back from a loss. We have a confident group. We'll rebound with a good effort on Thursday."
Ryan Miller should be the starting goaltender for the Sabres after his 40 save performance on Tuesday night. Miller has been successful against the Panthers in his career with an 11-7-0 record, a 2.47 goals against average, and .917 save percentage. If there was a doubt in any Sabres fans mind, Tuesday's performance showed why he's won a Vezina and is this team's number one goaltender. Drew Stafford agreed with that sentiment as well, from John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
"You know in games like [Tuesday] he's going to bail us out when we need him. That's just the kind of goalie that he is. That's the kind of player he is. He's the backbone of this team, and when he's going we can feed off that."
Game time is 7:30 pm Eastern.