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Sabres at Panthers Game Preview: Stafford Returns, Vanek Out

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The Sabres face the Panthers for the first time since trading TJ Brennan to Florida. They'll have to do so without the services of Thomas Vanek.

Joel Auerbach

The Sabres will face the Florida Panthers tonight, and on their blue line will be former Sabre TJ Brennan. The Sabres traded Brennan down south earlier this year for a fifth round pick, and he'll be returning to the Panthers lineup after sitting one game as a healthy scratch. Buffalo needs a win tonight against the worst team in the league if they have aspirations of staying in the playoff hunt. Sabres fans need to see a better effort than what they saw against Tampa, if they have aspirations of not going crazy and burning down the FNC.

Game #34

Buffalo Sabres (13-16-4) at Florida Panthers (9-19-6)

Puck Drop - 7:30pm - BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL
TV - MSG, FS-F | Radio - WGR 550-AM
Panthers Blog - Litter Box Cats (Please play nice if you're going to visit.)

Game Notes

There are a number of changes to the Sabres lineup tonight, most notably the injury to Thomas Vanek. Joining Vanek on the bench might be Brian Flynn, as he was not part of the morning skate, and presumably Mark Pysyk, thanks to the return of Andrej Sekera to the lineup, which has yet to be confirmed by Rolston. Also returning to the bench tonight are Drew Stafford and John Scott. Stafford will take Vanek's place on the second line after being a healthy scratch for the last two games. Rolston was being a bit coy this morning with his lineup choices, saying,

"We're confusing people right now," said a smirking interim coach Ron Rolston. "We came in, it was Blitzkrieg. We came in, quick pregame, so you have to wait for the lineup there."

Projected Buffalo Lines

Ott - Hodgson - Pominville
Stafford - Ennis - Leino
Gerbe - Porter - Foligno
Scott - Hecht - Kaleta

Ehrhoff - Weber
Regehr - Myers
Leopold - Sekera

Goal: Ryan Miller

Scratches/Injuries: Vanek, Flynn, Pysyk, Sulzer