[SBN Buffalo Sabres blog - Die by the Blade]
I guess for starters we'll kick off this preview with a more Penguins-centric question before getting into the swing of things with Buffalo. So, with that in mind, let's talk about Pittsburgh starting goaltenders. Dan Bylsma suggested the other day that Brent Johnson will be the starter in one of the next two games; tonight against the Sabres or tomorrow against the Devils. Now Fleury played a really solid game last time against the Sabres against Buffalo backup Patrick Lalime in what wound up being a 2-1 shootout win. He has, unfortunately, been struggling a bit against the Devils this year. Do you start Fleury tonight against the Sabres, or do you try and instill a little confidence in him yet and give him another nod against the Devils? Obviously we'll know for sure as we edge closer to the puck drop, but for the time being this should be a good conversation starter this morning.
On to the Sabres, where goaltending may be another topic of discussion.
Patrick Lalime put together one hell of a show a little over a week ago to keep the Sabres in it and force OT and the subsequent shootout loss. In more recent action, Lalime picked up his second 'W' of the year against St. Louis on Sunday night. However that was also the second half of a back-to-back, whereby Ryan Miller received the start Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators. In other words, even though 2009 Lalime looked like 1996 Lalime the last time out against the Pens, I think it's safe to say Miller will get the nod tonight. But as always, these things are subject to Lindy Ruff's consideration and won't officially be known until later in the day. More to come on that front of course.
The last time these two teams met was probably one of my more favorite games of the year. If I had to pick 10 favorites this early in the season, I think I'd rank it in my top three. The blowout wins over Philly and Ottawa may make an appearance as well.
Top names on the Sabres outside of the pipes: Derek Roy (9g, 21a), Tom Connolly (9g, 19a) and Jason Pominville (9g, 17a). Also can't forget a guy like Tomas Vanek (11g, 12a), who's picked up a point in each of his last three games.
Also worth noting about this game: Two years ago at this time we were all preparing for that "crazy outdoor game" between the Sabres and Pens at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. Sweet memories of rigged shootout wins remain ripe in my memory.
Puck and thread at 7:00. Jump on it.