In the grand scheme of the NHL season, this game has no implications on anything. The Sabres are practically locked into the third seed in the Eastern Conference and the Senators are locked into the fifth seed. For the Sabres though, this game is a playoff game because of the personal implications. The Senators have gone 5-0 this season, with only one of those games going to overtime. The Sabres need to win this game just to save face and not have the Senators, one of their hated rivals, sweep the season series.
For the Sabres, only Tim Connolly and Jochen Hecht are definitely out of this game and will miss the rest of the season with their respective injuries. Thomas Vanek and Patrick Kaleta both made the trip to Ottawa. Vanek is expected to be in the starting lineup and Kaleta may be an option for Saturday as well. Lindy Ruff had this to say after Friday's practice:
Kaleta skated as a fourth forward on the line of Raffi Torres-Matt Ellis-Adam Mair. He did well in shooting and stickhandling drills despite a cast on his right hand.
"He's actually doing pretty good," Ruff said. "It's probably a situation that you could think about playing him. It's something we've discussed and I think we'll discuss more today."
While it hasn't officially been announced, expect goaltender Ryan Miller to play his final game of the season against the Senators as Patrick Lalime should play on Sunday against the Devils. Note, this is pure speculation.
After the jump, the Senators lineup and other notes on the game.
The Senators are going to be without Alexei Kovalev as he was helped off the ice on Thursday with a left leg injury. Kovalev had an MRI on the leg and could miss some significant time in the playoffs. Other than Kovalev's injury, the Senators are healthy and expect goaltender Brian Elliott in net for the Senators.
Before the game, the Senators will honor Daniel Alfredsson for his 1,000th game that he played in on Thursday night. Alfredsson had this to say about the ceremony:
How long will it last?
"Eleven minutes," Alfredsson said, without missing a beat. "Hopefully."
And then, in reference to his gesture six years ago that made fun of his friend Mats Sundin and infuriated Maple Leafs fans, he added:
"It could end up being 13, but then I'd have to throw my stick again."
The Sabres would love nothing more than to spoil the Alfredsson ceremony and send the fans home with a loss. For that to happen, they have to eliminate all of the mistakes that have plagued them in the previous five games against the Senators this season.