Penguins Game Day (Game 16: Sabres)
After a a spectacular performance by Marc-Andre Fleury, The Penguins travel to Buffalo to take on Ryan Miller and the Sabres in a early afternoon bout. The Sabres had a very rough start to the season going 3-7 in their first 9 games. Since then Lindy Ruff, the longest tenure coach in the league (now in year 15 with the Sabres) has been able to right the ship somewhat. Since the 3-7 start Sabres have gone 3-2 showing signs of a very talented team, but a team that needs to put more emphasis on defense.
In the month of February the Penguins are 5-2 averaging 4.14 goals per game. The success they have had this month would not be possible if not for Marc Andre Fleury who currently has a 5-1 record with a 1.84 GAA and a .930 Save%. The Pens find themselves at fourth place in the conference and second in the division, trailing the Devils by only 1 point in both.
Game Time: 12:30pm est
Pittsburgh (10-5-0) @ Buffalo (6-8-1)
What to Watch For
(Unconfirmed) Vokoun(3-2-0) may get the start in net for the Penguins while Ryan Miller(6-6-1) should get the nod for Buffalo.
Buffalo’s Defense has been struggling this season. Overall the Sabres are 26th in Goals Against Per game with 3.33.
The Penguins offense is averaging 4.14 goals per game in he month of February.
Beau Bennett will play in his second NHL game against the Sabres. In his first he played very well but appeared to be a little out of place on the Third line with Sutter and Kennedy. Bylsma took notice and gave Bennett the opportunity to play along side Geno and Neal in the final 10+ minutes of the game. Though he did not score any points he made some very smart plays and had no problem going to the net. Look for him to start the game along side Malkin and Neal today. I feel this may be his coming out game.
Thomas Vanek has been a force this season. In 14 games he has 11 goals and 23 points. If he stays on this pace he will be looking at a 78 or 79 point season.
Sidney Crosby is only 3 points away from taking the scoring lead away from Vanek. In the past couple weeks, Crosby seems to have found his groove and is right back to where he was pre-concussion.
Ryan Miller appears to be getting his game back as he has been the one constant on the team not named Vanek. Despite his Goals Against Average (2.82)he has been very solid for the Sabres. If the defense can tighten up and make it more difficult for the opposition to get clean chances you will see Millers numbers improve.
Around the League
Despite losing Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza for the remainder of the season GM Bryan Murray is not ready to give up on his team.
Some believe that D Ryan Whitney may be on the trading block in Edmonton and with all the teams in need of defense look for something to happen relatively quickly if he is truly on the block.
Not much more on the O’Reilly front. It is still believed that Toronto has a lot of interest in the yo0ung Center. I suspect if a deal is not reached with Toronto with in the next week he will be going elsewhere.
The Blackhawks (11-0-3) have yet to lose a game in regulation this season. They go up against the defending Cup Champion L.A. Kings today. The last time they met was Opening Night for the NHL as well as the Banner raising Ceremony for L.A. Chicago went on to win 5-2 in a game that was much more lopsided than the score would suggest.
Other Games Tonight
L.A. @ Chicago / Calgary @ Dallas
Boston @ Winnipeg / Detroit @ Minnesota
Washington @ NYR / St. Louis @ Vancouver
Question of the Day
This section is for you the reader to get involved. Give us your answer in the comments section and let’s start some great Hockey Talk.
“If the Penguins and the Blackhawks were to play for the Stanley Cup, Who would win?”
You can follow Robert on Twitter @Rslavi_HTPens