Why does it always seem in the long stretches of down time for the Sabres, something big comes up with the sale of the team? With the final press conference of the former owners completed and the first press conference of the new prospective owner well in the future, the Buffalo Sabres have the task of getting back into the playoff hunt again. The Sabres are five points behind the Carolina Hurricanes with three games in hand and six points behind the Atlanta Thrashers with five games in hand.
The Sabres head to Pittsburgh to face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first game after the All-star break. The Penguins have played two games thus far, both wins against the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. The Islanders game yielded a goalie fight that hadn't been seen since the Sabres and Senators duked it out in 2007.
The biggest news for the Penguins is that they will be getting Evgeni Malkin back in the lineup for the first time since January 18th against the Red Wings. Malkin has been suffering from the flu and a bad knee that has been keeping him out of the lineup. Malkin hasn't been the offensive juggernaut that he has been in his career. Malkin has fifteen goals and 37 points on the season compared to his 30 goal and 100 point seasons that he has had.
Sidney Crosby has been out of the lineup since the Winter Classic with a concussion and has no timetable for a return at the moment. Dustin Jeffrey has played admirably in Crosby's role with three goals and two assists in nine games. Jeffrey had 17 goals and 45 points in 40 games for the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL.
For the Buffalo Sabres, Paul Byron is playing the role of Portland Pirate called up to replace Derek Roy for the time being. Byron scored his first career goal against the Senators before the All-Star break. Almost everyone is healthy for the Sabres, excluding Patrick Kaleta who is still nursing a broken hand. The Sabres will need this break as they will play 12 games in the next 26 days for the month of February.
Ryan Miller has started the last 26 games and will continue to play night in and night out for the Sabres as they try and make the run to the playoffs. The last game that Miller didn't start this season was November 24th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. With 10 days off between games, expect Miller to start against the Penguins and then against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.
Game time is 7:00 pm Eastern.