Sabres at Panthers Preview: The Sabres hit the road
Buffalo takes its show on the road for the first time this season as they travel down to Florida this weekend.
Buffalo Sabres (1-2-0) at
Florida Panthers (2-1-0)
After playing their best game of the young season and earning their first win, the Buffalo Sabres will begin their first small road trip by heading down south to take on a division opponent in the Florida Panthers. It's a battle of two young, talented teams looking to make a bigger impact in the NHL and features plenty of recent top draft picks - Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen for the Sabres, and Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov for the Panthers.
Last season, Roberto Luongo owned the Sabres to the tune of a .949 save percentage and a 1.25 GAA, and the Panthers went 4-0-1 against the NHL's worst team. The Sabres, however, aren't that team anymore, and will look to build on an excellent effort Monday against Columbus tonight in Sunrise.
1. How will the Sabres respond in their first road game?
After three games in the friendly confines of the First Niagara Center, the Sabres will finally take to the road, travelling to sunny Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers. Buffalo finally put a complete game together in Monday's win over Columbus, but now face the added challenge of going into their opponent's barn. Granted, Florida isn't the biggest challenge when it comes to intimidating crowds, but it's still another important step in the Dan Bylsma era.
2. Which #2 pick will have a bigger impact on the game?
Jack Eichel was drafted #2 in 2015. Aleksander Barkov was drafted #2 in 2013. Eichel has two goals, while Barkov has three points so far this season. Both are playing key roles for their team, both 5-on-5 and on special teams. Who will come out on top today?
3. Will Brian Gionta play?
The Sabres captain has yet to see the ice, and reportedly was close to playing on Monday. With a few days of extra rest, will Gionta make the ice tonight? If he does, it will allow Dan Bylsma to continue to spread his talent over three lines like he's done recently, putting Matt Moulson down on the third line with Johan Larsson and Jamie McGinn. If Gionta still isn't ready, look for McGinn and Foligno to each move up a line.