Buffalo begins their Florida trip tonight when they faceoff against the Panthers. This is the first of four meetings between the clubs as members of the newly formed Atlantic Division.
Buffalo enters tonight as the 30th team in the league with three points, one behind the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. They have struggled early and often and it does not appear that things are going to be getting much better in the immediate future. That being said, there are still some things to look forward to in tonight’s contest.
First of which is Nikita Zadorov, who is coming off his second game in the NHL in which he scored his first goal while logging 17:44 of ice time. Secondly, the dominant play of Zemgus Girgensons. Although he only has two points (1-1) leading up to tonight, Girgensons has been a force in the games in which he has appeared. It will be interesting to see how the “Z-Men” fair tonight against the Panthers.
The Sabres will be without Patrick Kaleta as he continues to serve his 10 game ban which was upheld by league Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday afternoon. They will also be missing John Scott who is suspended indefinitely pending a hearing over his hit to the head of Loui Eriksson. Kevin Porter was also waived yesterday with the intention of sending him to the Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans. Cody McCormick was activated off from injured reserve and has traveled with the team.
The Panthers have had their fair share of woes early in the season as well. They have now lost starting goaltender Tim Thomas twice to injury in the past 2 weeks, and it appears that he will miss tonight’s game against Buffalo. Though he has been fairly reliable when he manages to stay healthy, Thomas has been fragile, as would anyone after returning from a year of hiatus at age 40. Jacob Markstrom is likely to get the start with Scott Clemmensen serving as the backup.
Though many will write this game off before it even begins, it has the opportunity to become an entertaining tilt as both teams are desperate for a win. Puck drops tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST and can be watched on MSG-B and Bell-TV. Alternatively you can listen to the game live on WGR-550.