The last time the Winnipeg Jets visited the First Niagara Center, injuries, trades and firings were hardly talking points for fans of the Buffalo Sabres.
In fact, back on Nov. 5, the Sabres sat comfortably in fifth place in the Eastern Conference while boasting an 8-5 record. The only thing on the minds of Sabres fans at the time was the induction of two all-time greats, Dale Hawerchuk and Rick Jeanneret, into the Sabres Hall of Fame.
The Jets return to Buffalo tonight for the first time since that memorable night, but recently the Sabres haven’t given fans much they’ll want to remember at all.
While the 11th-place Sabres welcome Winnipeg back to Buffalo on the heels of a disappointing 4-2 loss in Carolina on Friday night, they’ll be looking to gain an important two points against the Jets who sit three points ahead of the Sabres at 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
While Buffalo’s recent play has been anything but good, Winnipeg enters tonight’s game after a day off following a 4-0 loss in Toronto.
Despite the Sabres’ struggles at home this season, they’ve managed to piece together a respectable 4-1-3 record over their past eight contests at the First Niagara Center. This may be a small advantage the Sabres have going for them, as the Jets have been terrible on the road this season with a 5-10-4 record away from the MTS Centre.
If you’re looking for a reason for the Sabres recent struggles, goalie Ryan Miller likely would find himself at the top of that list. Miller has been off his game recently and has allowed at least three goals in 10 of his last 12 starts. He holds a strong record against Atlanta/Winnipeg throughout his career, however. In 21 career games against the franchise, Miller has a 12-2 record with a 2.62 GAA and .910 SV%.
His counterpart, Ondrej Pavelec, has been less fortunate against the Sabres throughout his career. In four starts, Pavelec has failed to register a win and has struggled with a 4.35 GAA and .882 SV%.
While the Sabres gained Tyler Myers, who returned from his wrist injury after missing 19 games last night, they also lost Derek Roy to an upper-body injury. Although Roy will miss tonight’s game, Ville Leino is expected to make his return, and Tyler Ennis could be close to returning, as well.
The Jets will likely also be without one of their top scorers in Brian Little, who has been on injured reserve for an extended period of time. Little scored twice against the Sabres in their first meeting this season. The Jets will also be without defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Derek Meech.
The puck is set to drop at 7:00 tonight. For Time Warner Cable customers, the game can only be heard by radio at WGR 550. For all others, the game will be broadcast on MSG as well as CBC.