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The Week Ahead: October 19th

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The Sabres are coming off of their first regulation loss of the season and head out on the first of two Florida road trips this week:

Games:  Wednesday @ Florida, Saturday @ Tampa Bay

While the Sabres still cannot seem to beat the Atlanta Thrashers, their record last season against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning is a little more respectable.   They were 3-1 against the Panthers with the only loss coming on the road and they were 2-2 against the Lightning splitting the home and road series.  

The Panthers haven't changed much but did trade Jay Bouwmeester before the free agent period started.  Stephen Weiss and Micheal Frolik are the leading scorers on the team with 4 points apiece.  Starting goalie Tomas Vokoun has struggled this season, going 1-4 in his first five starts.  He has a 3.80 GAA and .903 SV% while backup Scott Clemmensen has looked good in his only appearance stopping 25 of 27 in his only start.  

The Lightning are struggling out of the gate as well going 2-3-2 in their first seven games.  Martin St. Louis is leading the team with 11 points and 8 assists while second year player Steven Stamkos is off to a much better start than his rookie campaign with four goals and four assists in the first seven games.  Starting goaltender Mike Smith has yet to win in his first four starts, going 0-2-2 with a 4.08 GAA and .864 SV% while backup Antero Nittimaki has fared much better going 2-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .913 SV%.

Storylines For The Week

1.  Will Thomas Vanek return from injury this week?  Vanek left Tuesday's game with an upper body injury and missed both games over the weekend.  He is supposed to return for the game against the Panthers and is a key component to this offense.  The next question is what happens with the roster when Vanek returns.  The Sabres will not have to make any cuts yet due to the Sekera injury but both Adam Mair and Daniel Paille played their first games of the season and are most likely going to both sit when Vanek comes back. 

2.  Can Tyler Myers continue to impress the Sabres and media?  Besides last night's miscues, Tyler Myers has impressed pretty much everyone with his play in the first six games this season.  He should have already convinced Sabres management to keep him around after his nine games ends.  He is also going to struggle in games like he did against the Thrashers, it is part of the learning process.  That being said, there is no reason to send him to back to juniors. 

Predictions For The Week

The Sabres should be able to take at least two points this week against both Florida teams.  Vanek will also return to the lineup with a bang and score three goals in the two games.