Preview: Sabres still looking for first win against Blackhawks
Ron Rolston has shuffled the lineup tonight in the hopes that Buffalo might find the spark to finally get into the win column.
One game after being a healthy scratch against Columbus, Mikhail Grigorenko will return to the lineup tonight in place of Kevin Porter. Grigorenko has played poorly thus far, and Porter at least provides hustle and puck possession skill,s so it will be interesting to see if a game in the box has jump-started the motor of Buffalo's young Russian. Ron Rolston also confirmed today that angry pylon John Scott will play in place of the suspended Patrick Kaleta.
The defense, meanwhile, sees Alex Sulzer take the place of Mike Weber, who had a very rough game on Thursday and currently sits at an NHL worst -8 through five games. Tyler Myers isn't doing too much better, finding himself at -7, but he'll get another chance to turn things around tonight against a very potent Blackhawks offense.
Buffalo Sabres (0-4-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (2-2-11)
Puck Drop - 8:00pm EST - United Center - Chicago, IL
TV - MSG, NHLN | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Blackhawks Blog - Second City Hockey (Please play nice if you're going to visit.)
Three Things To Watch For
1. Can the new lines and pairings find any chemistry?
After two games and 55 shots, the Sabres have but a single goal to their name. I know we said the offense this year would be hard to come by, but this is not exactly what we had in mind.
That's what I wrote in the preview for Game #3, and with Game #6 tonight, things haven't changed a bit. Buffalo's forward lines still look generally inept, though the Vanek-Hodgson-Ott line did finally play well in the Sabres 4-1 loss on Thursday. The Sabres are still waiting on their second line of Staford, Ennis, and Foligno to do...anything, and though the youngsters have played well at times, they still have little production to show for it.
The defense hasn't been much better, with everyone not named Ehrhoff or Pysyk struggling mightily over the past few games. Can the return of the calming presence of Alex Sulzer make a difference?
2. How will Mikhail Grigorenko respond to being a healthy scratch?
The Sabres are stuck between a rock and a hard place with Grigorenko this season, as he doesn't seem ready for the NHL, but can't go to the AHL, and won't benefit from another year in juniors. His compete level just isn't high enough yet, but will the embarrassment of being a healthy scratch light a fire under Griggy's skates?
The Sabres could certainly use all of the offensive talent they can get, but they need every player on the ice to commit to a hard-working, battle-winning game in order to compete night in and night out. Grigorenko can still make an impact on the ice, but only if he commits to playing with more chutzpah.
3. Are these photos of the rafters in the United Center depressing or what?
Thanks to WGR's Pat Malacaro's Twitter feed for providing some early afternoon depression.
Projected BUF Lines
Vanek - Hodgson - Ott
Stafford - Ennis - Foligno
Girgensons - Grigorenko - Flynn
McCormick - Larsson - Scott
Ehrhoff - Pysyk
McBain - Myers
Sulzer - Ristolainen
Goal: Ryan Miller
Scratches/Injuries: Kaleta, Porter, Leino, Tallinder, Weber