Buffalo Sabres fans have been asking themselves as to when the team is actually going to be able to get their first win of the 2013-14 season. Their next chance comes against the New York Islanders, a team that the Sabres have had some success against as they are 5-4-1 in their last 10. The Sabres should have Ryan Miller in net after Jhonas Enroth played Monday night against the Wild. Miller has dominated the Islanders in terms of winning with a 15-9-2 record in 27 games played against New York. The statistics behind those wins though doesn't seem as impressive with only a 3.00 goals against average and .903 save percentage.
If the Sabres are going to have a chance at winning this game, it very well may come with Miller having to pitch a shutout. The Islanders are 8th in this early season in goals allowed/game at 2.40. That is slightly worse than the last opponent in Minnesota, who allowed just 2.00 goals/game in six games played. The Sabres haven't been terrible in the goals allowed category themselves, only allowing 2.57 goals/game.
The Sabres offense needs to find something and it starts with the marquee scorers in Thomas Vanek and Cody Hodgson. Both Vanek and Hodgson started the abbreviated season last year on a tear, with Vanek scoring eight of his 20 goals and Hodgson scoring four of his 15 goals in the first eight games last year. This year they have combined for three goals and nine points this season. A rotating cast of wingers have gone through that line to try and jump start some offense, but when this team lacks the talent needed to compliment those guys, they may just have to create it themselves.
The Islanders sit at 2-2-1 on the season, losers of their last two games. Whenever you are talking about the Islanders, the one person that has to be mentioned is John Tavares. Tavares has three goals and three assists on the season and points in each of his last four games. He has been a point per game player against the Sabres in his career with eight goals and seven assists in 15 games played.
Three Things To Watch For
1.) Can the Sabres find the back of the net repeatedly?
It seems like I'm beating a dead horse with this, but it bears mentioning over and over again until the team can actually put more than one or two goals on the scoreboard. They have seven goals in seven games, which is slightly worse than Philadelphia's eight goals in six games on the season.
2.) Will Mike Weber turn things around?
Weber has been atrocious in his last handful of games, going -8 on this season. He was fortunate enough to be even on Monday night against the Wild after he was on the ice for the first goal against. Overall, Weber hasn't been the worst defenseman in terms of Corsi For percentage, that honor goes to Rasmus Ristolainen, but he has suffered a bit of bad luck in being on the ice for 11 of the 12 five on five goals the team has given up. In his career against the Islanders, Weber is a -4 in 10 games played.
3.) How often will Ryan Miller have to stand on his head?
The defense in front of Miller hasn't been spectacular, but he hasn't let it slow him down this season. With a .941 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average, Miller has been rock solid for the Sabres this season. In fact, only one of his first four games could be considered duds as he allowed four goals to Columbus on the 10th and two or few in each of his other three starts. For the Sabres to win, he may just have to pitch a shutout.