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Buffalo Sabres @ Florida Panthers

Buffalo Sabres (23-17-5) Game # 46 Florida Panthers (21-16-7)
vs. Panthers_game_medium

Date: January 19, 2009
Location: Sunrise, FL
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Arena: BankAtlantic Center
TV: MSG-B SBN Affiliate/ Blogs Litter Box Cats

WGR (550AM)

Season Series 0-1-0
Final Score Buffalo 3 Florida 2 SO

The image above describes the Who, What, Where and When so I guess now is the time to describe the Why.

Why Is This An Important Game

Like Saturday, this game is as big as a game can get in the month of January. Somehow, unlike Saturday, I don't find myself as excited for this game as I did the game against the Canes. Maybe it's the rivalry that has developed between the Sabres and Canes, or maybe it is the Canes have been relatively successful in the recent past and the Panthers have been irrelevant for a long time. Either way there isn't as much excitement and there is certainly not as much hype for the game today.

The Sabres

The Sabres have won their last two games, including their come from behind shootout win in Dallas on Thursday. They will be without two key blue-liners this evening. Andrej Sekera is out for approximately two weeks and Teppo Numminen is out indefinitely with a broken jaw that was suffered agaisnt Carolina on Saturday. The Sabres are not expected to call anyone up and will instead have only six healthy defensemen on the roster. That means that nathan Paetsch will be in the lineup for only the 12th time this season.

There is not a Goalie in the league that is as hot as Ryan Miller right now. Miller is 6-1-0 in his last seven starts. He has a .943 save percentage and a 2.00 Goals Against Average in his last seven. Miller is expected to make his third consecutive start tonight.

The Panthers

More info on the Panthers can be found at Litter Box Cats.

The Panthers have surprised everyone with their climb in the Eastern Conference Standings. They are led offensively by David Booth who has 18 goals and 11 assists for a total of 29 points in 37 games played. Nathan Horton is second on the team with 12 goals but is not living up to what people thought he could do. There was a time that people thought that Horton (12G-13A-25P) was going to be better than Derek Roy (16G-26A-42P) after they both signed similar contracts.

Cory Stillman has started to climb up the ladder in point totals having scored two goals and four assists in his last five games. The only player that is more hot on the Panthers roster is Jay Bouwmeester who has scored three goals and has four assists in his last six games. Those would be lofty numbers for the best scorers in the league but they are even more impressive coming from a Defenseman.

Probable Goalies

2008 - Ryan Miller 37 2185 21 11 4 3 91 2.50 1105 1014 .918 3

2008 - Tomas Vokoun 30 1576 12 12 2 4 71 2.70 861 790 .918 3