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Game 7: Sabres vs. Panthers Preview

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How the Sabres come out and react to this game will be telling in how this season will go.  The team is coming off their worst performance of the season against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night and they need to respond with an effort against a Florida Panther team that has been struggling since they have come back to North America. 

The Sabres seem to be getting healthier with Thomas Vanek looking to be close to 100% after suffering what appeared to be a rib injury against the Red Wings.  Matt Ellis should also be in the lineup after missing the game against the Thrashers.  That means that Adam Mair is going to be the odd man out to be a healthy scratch again this season.  The second man out would have been Paille before we sent him to Boston.  

In the case of the Panthers, Scott Clemmensen is going to get the start after impressing in Florida's last win against the Philadelphia Flyers.  Clemmensen stopped 25 of 27 shots in the win and appears to jump start the Panthers better than Tomas Vokoun had.  In terms of scorers, Stephen Weiss and Micheal Frolik are leading the Panthers in scoring with four points a piece.  

Keys to the Game:

Sabres:  Jump out early.  This team needs to regain the swagger they had in the first few games and the Panthers are the team for that to happen against.  If the Sabres can get an early lead and continue to pressure the Panthers, they should be able to control the pace of the game. 

Panthers:  Strike first.  If the Panthers can strike first and quickly, it will be interesting to see how the Sabres react.  After the Sabres fell into a two goal deficit against the Thrashers, they tightened up their game and outplayed the Thrashers for the rest of the game, they just could not overcome the early deficit.  The Panthers can do the same thing especially if Clemmensen plays as well as he did against the Flyers.