After putting together a nice string of play earlier in the month, the Buffalo Sabres are back on the losing trail. Three games in a row, and two in the shootout, haven't gone the way of the boys in blue and gold, but a game versus the team ranked just ahead of Buffalo in the East will try to cure the Sabres of their losing ways.
Yes, tonight's game is a battle between the #15 and #16 team in the Eastern Conference, though Florida is twelve points up. Sabres coach Ted Nolan will try to jump-start his team by benching Zenon Konopka, who has taken three unnecessary minor penalties the past three games, which directly led to three goals against. In his place will be Linus Omark, who yesterday in practice got a promotion to the second line. The Sabres trade acquisition has mostly seen time with the bottom of the barrel teammates, as all Buffalo players with a small amount of offensive skill seem to do.
The Tylers Ennis and Myers will look to keep their hot streaks going - Ennis has a point in four straight games while Myers has three goals in his last four.
The Panthers are coming off of a 5-1 drubbing of the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, and are looking to win their first back-to-back games since mid-December.
Buffalo Sabres (13-27-7) at Florida Panthers (19-23-7)
Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST - First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY
TV - MSG, FS-F, Bell | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Panthers Blog - Litter Box Cats
1. Will Omark make any noise playing with better teammates?
Since acquiring him in a trade, Linus Omark has played most of his minutes on the third or fourth line. Tonight, he's going to get some time with Cody Hodgson and Steve Ott, on a line that's been hot lately. Will it make a difference?
2. Can the Sabres tighten up their defense?
Despite scoring nine goals in three games, the Sabres have allowed ten, and lost all three games. Buffalo's strategy is built around tightening down the hatches and letting Ryan Miller do his thing, and neither has been working all that great over the past few games. They're due for a real low-scoring affair, no?
3. How will the team respond to Konopka's benching?
Konopka won't see the ice tonight thanks to him taking too many penalties, and having the other team score each time he's been in the box the past three games.
Projected BUF Lines
Moulson - Ennis - Stafford
Ott - Hodgson - Omark
Flynn - Foligno - Girgensons
Scott - Leino - Ellis
Ehrhoff – Pysyk
Weber – Myers
McNabb - McBain
Goal: Ryan Miller
Scratches/Injuries: Sulzer, Tallinder, Porter, McCormick, D'Agostini, Konopka