Sabres vs. Hurricanes preview: Let's try this one again

The Sabres and Hurricanes kick off the second half of the NHL season by trying their snowed-out game one more time.

Thanks to a snowstorm back in January, the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes will have the honor of kicking off the post-Olympic return of NHL hockey tonight in Buffalo.

So after two weeks of watching the best in the world go at it for Olympic supremacy, we get to once again watch an historically bad NHL team fight for the first overall pick. You'll forgive us if we need an extra cup of coffee to get psyched for this one.

But hey, it's not all bad, as the return of the NHL from the Olympic break means the home stretch leading up to the trade deadline, which should be one of the biggest in franchise history. The way certain players perform over the next nine days could mean the difference between staying or going, or between a first or second round pick coming back in a big deal.

For their part as a team, the Sabres should have befitted from two weeks of rest, seeing as most of their players didn't make the trip to Sochi, and of those who did, only Zemgus Girgensons had a consistent starting role. However, will a team that's historically had trouble coming out of the gate with some jump be able to rev things right back up to fifth gear? Or will we once again see a team that takes a few periods to get going?

With a win tonight, Carolina would move to within one point of the eighth playoff spot, while the Sabres enter the second part of the season nine points behind second-worst Edmonton with three games in hand.

Game #58

Buffalo Sabres (15-34-8) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (26-22-9)

Puck Drop - 7:00pm EST - First Niagara Center - Buffalo, NY
- NHLN-US, SPSO, MSG-B, Bell TV | Radio - WGR 550-AM
SBNation Hurricanes Blog
- Canes Country

Three Questions

1. What effect will the long layoff have on the two teams?
No NHL team has played a game together in over two weeks, so will we see a sloppy game, or will these teams pick up right where they left off?

2. How will Miller play having just come back from Sochi at noon yesterday?
The Sabres two goalies and Henrik Tallinder will likely be suffering some serious jet lag, feeling like it's 4am for their game versus Carolina. Ted Nolan has said that the team won't call up another goalie, so it looks like it'll be a tired Miller in net.

3. Has the long break killed off Drew Stafford's hot streak?
Stafford had six goals and nine points in the seven games before the break, and with the trade deadline looming, now would be a great time to pick up where you left off, Drew.

Projected BUF Lines

Moulson - Ennis - Stafford
Ott - Hodgson - D'Agostini
Girgensons - Leino - Flynn
Ellis - Konopka - McCormick

Ehrhoff Sulzer
Tallinder - Myers
Weber - McBain

Goal: Ryan Miller

Scratches/Injuries: Foligno, Scott