Buffalo Sabres (5-0-1, 11PTS) @ Minnesota Wild (4-0-0, 8PTS)
8:00 PM EST, XCell Energy Center
Radio: WGR 550 (Buffalo), XM 208 (National)
What the enemy is saying- Hockey Wilderness
With the new schedule in the NHL we will see Western Conference opponents more often, the contest with the Wild on Thursday will mark the second game against a Western Conference Opponent. Both teams are off to great starts and neither has lost a game in regulation. The only blemish for either team is the Sabres shootout loss to Atlanta in their last road game.
On paper this looks like a pretty even contest with the stats favoring the Wild slightly. The Wild have scored 3.50 Goals/Game and are allowing only 1.75 Goals/Game. They Wild have also had good special teams scoring six power play goals in only 21 opportunities. Their penalty killing has been even better, killing off all 15 of their opponents chances.
The Sabres are not too bad themselves, scoring nine goals on 37 power play chances. The Sabres finally allowed a power play goal on Tuesday against the Bruins but they have killed off 29-of-30. They still have not allowed a power play goal on the road and have been shorthanded 17 times.
This game will probably come down to the power play because both teams are so equal. They both have relied on special teams so far and have not been overly impressive 5-on-5. The Sabres have scored nine goals and allowed seven 5-on-5 while the Wild have scored eight and allowed seven.
We are likely to see the best of both teams between the pipes with Ryan Miller starting for the Sabres while Nicklas Backstrom should get the nod for the Wild. Miller is second in the league in Goals Against Average (1.45) and save percentage (.943) and Backstrom is third with a 1.71 Goals Against Average and a .942 save percentage.
The Sabres have already been playing without three of their regular forwards and now they add Captain Craig Rivet to the list of the wounded. Rivet had surgery on his knee today and will miss at least two weeks. Nathan Paetsch is expected to see his first game action of the season in the place of Rivet.
Don't forget to sign up for the SPG Game
The SPG Game is a fun game we play for game day where you guess who will have the first shot, penalty and goal of each period during every Sabres game.