The Sabres get one more chance starting tonight to hit the reset button on the 11-12 season. This has been a season full of injuries and inconsistent play. The year 2011 ended poorly for the Sabres losing 3 in a row and also losing Ehrhoff and Sekera for a period of weeks due to injury. Making the total now of 15 different opening night players to miss one game (Vanek, Pommer, Roy, and Adam only players to play every game). Pominville however may be in jeopordy tonight after missing the pre-game skate with an illness. He is expected to play however, Kassian the likely scratch is expected to dress for warm ups just in case. Help again appears to be on the way Ennis should play Thursday in Carolina and Leino is aiming for either Saturday against the Jets or Tuesday in Toronto. The troubling news however is the lack of progress in the broken wrist of Tyler Myers. He is over the expected 4-6 week recovering stage and still unable to lean on his stick, only flipping pucks in practice. He has a catscan today to get that clearance to try to put more on his shot. Sabres need that to go well today, I will not write this team off until I see 57 back in the lineup again for a few games.
Tonight the young Edmonton Oilers enter the FN Center. They fought out a tough 4-3 W over the Hawks last night in the Mad House. Although it turned out to be costly, Rookie of the Year candidate RNH left early with a shoulder injury and he is expected to miss some time. Tom Gilbert also left the game after a dirty hit from league scum Dan Carcillo. Gilbert had an apperant knee injury and could be serious in nature. I expect Carcillo to get the full wrath of discipline Czar Shanahan. However the Oil bring in some exciting talent in Eberle, Gagner, Hall, and Lander to name a few.
Gagner has been in the rumor mill as of late and I would love to see the Sabres go after him in a trade. He is a skilled center the Sabres could use to plop between Vanek and Pominville. It is a perfect match in my opinion the Oilers need a puck moving D-man and the Sabres need offense. The Sabres can offer plenty in the puck moving defenseman category (Sekera, Gragnani, and Brennan to name a few). I have loved Gagner's game ever since he came out of the OHL London Knights. He has sick hands and speed, he has delt with some injury issues and has struggled in Edmonton Also I'm curious to get a look at Ales Hemsky, he has also been tied to the Sabres in trade rumors, however I am less intrigued by that opportunity. Hemsky is an injury waiting to happen and a rental player at that. No thanks.
Sabres need to get the ball rolling here time is ticking away. Team President Ted Black said that mangement will be meeting in the next week to determine the direction of this team. If they want to head down the push for the playoffs path they need to start winning fast and it starts with winning 2 games in a row something they havent done since Thanksgiving. They played a good game against Ottawa on New Years Eve, but got a tough roll of the puck in the shootout to lose 3-2. Have to build on that effort and run Edmonton out of the rink tonight at home.
A little off topic, but last nights Winter Classic between the Flyers and Rangers was a classic. With the Rupp celebration, the Rangers come back, the intesity, and how bout the end to that game. Not going to lie it put a smile on my face to see King Henrik stuff Briere on that penalty shot with 19 seconds left. By the way is anyone better right than Lundqvist between the pipes right now? Look out for the Blue Shirts in the playoffs if they can just give King Henrik some scoring.
Expected Lineup: (Ruff line juggle)
Vanek-Roy-Pommer/Kassian (depending if Pominville plays)
Prediction: Oil just had a hard fought battle with the Hawks last night and the Sabres looking to get it going. Sabres run the Oil out of the building 5-2 Sabres.
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