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Buffalo Sabres @ NY Rangers [Game Thread}

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Game #3

Buffalo Sabres (2-0-0, 4PTS) vs. NY Rangers (5-0-0, 10PTS)

7:00 PM EST, Madison Square Garden

TV: MSG-B (Buffalo)

Radio: WGR 550 (Buffalo), XM 204 (National)

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Tonight at Madison Square Garden two undefeated teams will take the ice. This has all the makings of a low scoring hockey game with two outstanding goalies and both teams have been relentless on the penalty kill.The Sabres are coming off of a 7-1 thumping over New York's other team, the Islanders, and hope to break through on Henrik Lundqvist this evening.

The Rangers have been impressive in their five starts this season because of the play of their second line and their penalty kill. The Rangers have not allowed a power play goal in five games and 21 opportunities this season. Everywhere you turn people are talking about the Rangers impressive start and penalty kill, including right here at Die by the Blade.

While coach Tom Renney has his second line clicking, it has been the penalty-killing units that have been making it look easy for the Rangers thus far. They killed off another three penalties Monday and are now 21-for-21 when short-handed, even adding a goal when down a man.

The Sabres have been just as impressive on the penalty kill, killing off all ten power play attempts (hat tip to Bflo blog for pointing this out), including five against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night. The Sabres come into the game very thin down the middle after Jochen Hecht had surgery on his finger yesterday. Clarke MacArthur will get an opportunity to play center between Daniel Paille and Jason Pominville tonight.

For people who wondered why the Sabres claimed Matt Ellis off of waivers and than made him a healthy scratch his first two games, he will be in the lineup tonight because of the injury to Hecht. It's important to note that you can never have enough depth in this league and the Sabres have made it clear they do not want to rush Nathan Gerbe to the NHL.

"Based on what I saw from the last game, [Mark] Mancari would be the guy," Ruff said, referring to Mancari's hat trick in Portland's season-opening win over Manchester. "That's what we tell all our young players. The guy that is playing the best will get the opportunity, whether that's Tyler Bouck who had a good game, Mark Mancari, whoever. It's not based on draft picks, not based on where you got picked. It's who's doing the job the best down there. ... We want the guys going the best down there and that's all we want. That's the order we've kept in our tenure here with Darcy and I."

Players to watch

Buffalo Sabres: Ales Kotalik (1G-2A-3P, 1PPG), Jason Pominville (1G-2A-3P), Thomas Vanek (3G-0A-3P, 1PPG, 1SHG), Teppo Numminen (0G-2A-2P), Maxim Afinogenov (0G-2A-2P), Daniel Paille (0G-2A-2P), Ryan Miller (1-0-0, 0.92 GAA, .964 sv%)

NY Rangers: Aaron Voros (3G-4A-7P, 2PPG), Brandon Dubinsky (3G-4A-7P, 1PPG), Nikolai Zherdev (2G-3A-5P), Dan Girardi (0G-5A-5P), Markus Naslund (1G-3A-4P), Wade Redden (2G-1A-3P, 1PPG), Henrik Lundqvist (4-0-0, 1.25 GAA, .949 sv%)


Buffalo Sabres: Jochen Hecht had surgery on his finger yesterday and will miss at least two weeks...Hecht is third Sabres Center to miss time due to injury as Paul Gaustad and Tim Connolly remain out of the lineup...Thomas Vanek has scored five goals, including three power play goals in 12 games against the Rangers in his career...Did not allow a power play goal to the Rangers last season... Craig Rivet is expected to be in the lineup despite receiving a double game misconduct in the game against the Islanders

NY Rangers: The Rangers are 5-0-0 and have never won six consecutive games to begin a season...The Rangers have a head start on plenty of other teams because of their two-game series with the Tampa Bay Lightning in Prague, Czech Republic last weekend...Ex-Sabres Chris Drury was named captain this season after Jaromir Jagr left to play in the KHL with Omsk...The Rangers are an impressive 21-for-21 on the penalty kill this season.

07-08 Meetings

Season Series:0-3-1

Buffalo Outshot:0-0-0

Rangers Outshot:0-3-1

Even shots:0-0-0

Buffalo PP: 2-20 -10%

Rangers PP: 0-15 - 0%

Date O/S Vis Home W/ Goalie W/T Goal Vis PP Home PP
Jan 16 Buf 1 NYR 2 H. Lundqvist P. Prucha 0-5 0-4
Feb 16 Buf 1
NYR 5 H. Lundqvist R. Callahan 1-3 0-5
Feb 23 NYR 4
Buf 3 H. Lundqvist S. Avery 0-3 0-4
Dec 19 SO NYR 3 Buf 2 H. Lundqvist S.Gomez 0-3 1-8

Expected Lines

#26 Vanek #9 Roy #21 Stafford
#20 Paille #41 MacArthur #29 Pominville
#12 Kotalik #22 Mair #61 Afinogenov
#36 Kaleta # 37 Ellis #76 Peters