The Buffalo Sabres are on the west coast tonight as they visit the Honda Center to meet with the Anaheim Ducks for the second time this season.
The teams last played way back on October 7th in Helsinki, Finland for their respective regular season debuts, where Buffalo won 4-1. That contest was considered a home game for the Sabres, while this trip to California acts as their away matchup with the Ducks.
The Sabres enter tonight with their fans still talking about the last-minute deals they struck at the trade deadline on Monday. It will be the first time in over seven seasons that the Sabres will play a game without former center Paul Gaustad as even a part of the organization after he was shipped to Nashville. It will also be the time first time they will play a game with former Vancouver Canucks Cody Hogdson and Alexander Sulzer as members of the blue and gold, both of whom were acquired for former Sabres Marc-Andre Gragnani and Zack Kassian.
Hogdson was in Buffalo for the first time yesterday to get a tour of First Niagara Center and the locker room before flying out to meet with his new team today. He’ll have plenty of eyes watching him as he’s expected to compete for a top line spot alongside center Tyler Ennis on a team that’s been yearning for an elite centerman, and just traded one away.
Sabres’ management hopes that Hogdson can provide some extra offense on way to Buffalo getting back on the winning path following a 3-2 Overtime loss to the New York Rangers Saturday night. Before then the Sabres embarked on a three-game winning streak, including victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins.
The Ducks also look to avoid a slide as they enter tonight’s contest following a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche on Monday. While Anaheim was at one point in the lowest trenches of the Western Conference, they’ve been flying high in the new year posting a 17-4-2-2 record dating back to January 6th.
Anaheim still sits 5th in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Conference, but remains only six points out of a playoff berth. Buffalo can expect to face a much stiffer challenge than they did in their season opener. Just like the Sabres, the Ducks are a revitalized team in the second half of the season fighting for a distant playoff position.
With the contest being waged in Anaheim, fans will have to stay up for a late one this evening. The puck drop is scheduled for 10 PM on the east coast and will be broadcast on MSG. Fans can also listen in through WGR 550, perhaps with a radio in their beds.