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Scouting the Enemy: Buffalo Sabres


: 10-8-3

Leading scorers: Thomas Vanek (15G, 5A, 20pts), Jason Pominville (8G, 9A, 17 pts)

Blogs: Die By the Blade, Buffalo Blog

Injuries: Buffalo Sabres


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Thomas Vanek undisclosed 11.27.2008

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Ales Kotalik hamstring 11.15.2008

The Sabres have only won one game since the last time these two teams met back on November 15 (full coverage).  You may remember that was yet another one of the Penguins' many third period comeback games. 

It looks like the Pens may have a slight edge over the Sabres (on paper at least), as their top scorer Thomas Vanek is questionable with an "undisclosed" injury.  But I figured rather than supplying you with the 4-1-1 on the Sabres, there's no better choice than D.O. from Die By The Blade.  He and I decided to swap some insider tips on both teams to see what is going right (or wrong) since the last meeting.  The offense, defense and goaltending are among the subjects discussed after the jump.  If you want to read up on my installment, be sure to check out Die By The Blade.

Things to know about the Buffalo Sabres offense

Since the lockout the Sabres have been known as an offensively skilled team and that still holds true today, with one notable difference.  The current group of Sabres is just as talented as they have been in the past but they lack consistency.  One night they come out and score four or five goals with little effort and on the next they struggle to score even one.  Thomas Vanek is the Sabres most skilled forward and is off to the best start of his career.  He has scored 15 goals already this season, including seven on the power play.  Vanek took a hard hit from Milan Lucic on Wednesday night and is questionable for the game with the Penguins.  Buffalo recently received a spark from rookie forward Mark Mancari, Mancari had 11 goals and 14 assists in Portland and he scored his first NHL goal last Saturday against the NY Islanders.  The Sabres have battled through injuries to forwards all season and they are currently without Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik.


Things to know about the Buffalo Sabres defense


Hahaha…I don’t even know what to say about this group.  Last season the Sabres were the worst defensive team in the league, and if they weren’t…it sure felt like it.  In the off-season they traded for Craig Rivet of the San Jose Sharks and the move seemed to pay off.  They started the season like a completely different group of players.   They played like one cohesive unit and rarely made a mistake but recently they are back to their old ways.  Henrik Tallinder was the teams best defenseman just a couple of seasons ago and he found himself watching as a healthy scratch twice this week…that sums up the struggles of this unit.


Things to know about the Buffalo Sabres goalies


The goaltending has been just as inconsistent as the forwards and defense.  Ryan Miller and Patrick Lalime were ranked one and two in the first two weeks of the season and now you have to search for them.  Lalime was brought in to backup Miller because last season they were not happy with ex-Penguin goalie Jocelyn Thibault.  The lack of confidence in Thibault forced Ryan Miller to play in career high 74 games and they wanted him to get a break.  It seemed to work early in the season but since that time both Miller and Lalime have had their struggles.  The knock on Miller has always been that he can get beat with the high shot because he falls to his knees too early and we have seen that happen again this year.  I would expect that you will see Miller in goal for the Sabres and he still gives the Sabres the best chance for victory despite his struggles.