The Canes were the better team by far the last time they played Buffalo, but Coach Paul Maurice is making it clear to his team that the same result won’t come as easy this time around.
“From a bench perspective watching that game in Buffalo, we were really good and they weren’t,” he said. “We’ve got to do a good job explaining that we’re not going to see that game, and if we play as well as we possibly can it still won’t look like that game because they are going to be markedly better, so we have to be prepared for that.”
The Sabres are missing some key players ahead of tonight’s match-up, which would see a winner in regulation land in a playoff spot when the final horn sounds. Top scorer Thomas Vanek (jaw) and starting goaltender Ryan Miller (high ankle sprain) are out, while Miller’s backup, Patrick Lalime, is questionable with the flu.
If Lalime can’t go, rookie Jhonas Enroth would be in goal for his first career NHL start. The 20-year-old Swede is 0-6-3 in his last nine starts for AHL Portland.
Maurice said the team was waiting for the scouting report on Enroth, but that the game plan would be the same regardless of who starts for the Sabres.
“We’ll get information on the potential goaltender, and then after that we’ll throw as many pucks at whoever’s in the net as we can,” he said.
The Hurricanes are only anticipating one lineup change for tonight, with Frantisek Kaberle entering the lineup in place of Niclas Wallin, who will be a healthy scratch. Kaberle will be paired with Dennis Seidenberg tonight. – Depth Chart.
Scott Walker took the morning skate today on a regular line with Jussi Jokinen and Ryan Bayda, but won’t play tonight, although he is getting very close.
“He is closing in on it and he’s pretty excited,” said Maurice. “I think he was looking to see if he could weasel his way into the lineup tonight, but it’s a little early.”
- Eric Staal has been firing the puck from everywhere lately, with 28 shots in his last three games. He only has one goal in that span, but that should change in a hurry if he maintains that pace. Staal is currently second in the NHL with 287 shots, trailing only Alexander Ovechkin and his ridiculous total of 392.
- Brandon Sutter scored a goal last night to help Albany to a 3-1 win over Bridgeport in their first game since last week’s bus accident.
An account of his goal, via River Rats’ Director of Public Relations Owen Newkirk:
Sutter took a pass from Noah Babin right near the blue line, slipped around the two Bridgeport defensemen and then went forehand-to-backhand as he slid the puck behind Lawson.
Not bad. Sutter finished the game with five shots and a +1 plus/minus rating.