Game Preview: Buffalo Sabres vs. Calgary Flames
On this fine Friday evening, the Calgary Flames (11-4-1) travel to the Buffalove to take on the Sabres (10-4-1). These two teams are eerily similar. Both teams have a nice mix up of veteran players with young soon-to-be hotshots. Both teams also have superstar goaltenders, Mikka Kiprusoff and Ryan Miller. This should be a physical, flashy, fun-fest of blood, sweat and maybe even tears (depending on whether or not Dion Phanuef gets checked).
The Flames are coming off of a not-so-fresh (their last game was Tuesday) 1-0 win over Montreal. A game with one goal over a rival? What a shocker… Calgary peppered Jaroslav Halak (who coincidentally is my fantasy goalie) with 31 shots. Only one such shot got through and it was off of the stick of superstar Jerome Iginla. It was Calgary’s fourth straight win. Yikes. Look for them to carry that momentum into tonights game.
The Sabres are coming off of a victory as well. The Sabres played pretty well in a hard fought win over… Edmonton? That’s ironic. Why is that ironic you ask? Because Edmonton is Calgary’s biggest rival. Anywho, Stafford netted his fifth of the season in a game that saw Steve Montador finally pot his first goal. Hecht got his second (Woah! Don’t work too hard there Jochen!) goal of the season on an empty netter.
Time for everybody’s favorite, the ole Hotsandnots.
Drew Stafford: Staffy’s goal last game now gives him the team tie for goals with 5. The players that he shares the lead with are Clarke MacArthur and Thomas Vanek. They both also have 3 assists. So does Stafford. This means that all three of our leading scorers have 5 goals and 3 assists. Just food for thought. Anyway, the aforementioned goal was crucial to the game because it allowed the Sabres to gain early momentum, something we are quite good at. If Stafford can continue to get shots on net (he’s second on the team in that category), then we will likely be watching him light the lamp several more times throughout the course of this season. This is Stafford’s season. It’s either step up or step out.
Tim Connolly: Timmy C is the man right now. He had two consecutive assists last week in helping set up both Stafford and Steve Montador. He’s pretty good at that whole “play-making” thing this season. Like really good. He’s leading the team with really solid number of 11 assists. Hopefully Timmy can take this hotness and transfer it to goal scoring. No one can touch him when he gets going so he needs to get going. He is trying, he’s third on the team with 41 shots. I bet he nets one tonight. Just sayin’.
Jerome Iginla: And why wouldn’t Iggy be hot? The man is a machine. A MACHINE I TELL YOU. But seriously he is one of the scariest goal scorers in the league. Once Iggy starts, there ain’t not stoppin’ him. His goal last game is just the icing on the cake to his torrid pace. The Flames have scored nine goals in the past four games. A decent number. But here it is: Iggy has scored five of those goals. Five of them. One more time, with feeling, five. That’s just ludicrous. The Sabres D needs to shut him down early or we’re done for. I guarantee it. Iggy is just waiting to bust out a two goal, two assist game. Just. Waiting
Rene Bourque: The fact that his name is Rene (tee hee) doesn’t even matter this season. And it probably never will. Even though Rene is a really girly name. Just sayin’. Why doesn’t matter (outside of the fact that a player’s first name has little or nothing to do with how well he plays)? Because Bourque is playing ridiculously well. The 28 year old is leading the Flames in points with 18 and assists with 12. Oh yeah and he’s second in goals behind that Iggy guy. Wow. His assist last game just proves how well he has been playing as of late. Watch for Rene to make some plays on the second line.
Patrick Kaleta: Buffalo’s own work horse of a winger needs t0 step it up. He started the season quite strong, carrying the team on a occasions. Now Patty K needs play his game. He needs to get physical,win battles. Ya know, Do Work, Get Money, all that stuff. If Kaleta plays his game then plays will come. They always do.
Tim Kennedy: This is by no means a knock on the young Kennedy. I love this kid. He’s a great little player. He has also been in a bit of a slump as of late. Kennedy needs to remember what got him here. Hard work and play making (sound familiar, Kaleta?). Tim needs to start using his speed to his advantage and work his way outside the big forwards he’s playing against. If he can get to the outside and throw pucks at the net, good things will happen. Especially with Mike Grier as his linemate. You can do it man, I have faith in you.
Jay Boumeester: This is a bit of stretch. In terms of goals, Jaybo is supposed to be one of the best offensive defenseman in the league. This year, he’s not. He’s got one goal. Only one. That’s not very much fun at all. He just needs to use his big, heavy slap shot to get pucks through. It’ll happen, hopefully not tonight.
The Sabres have their hands full tonight. Calgary is 5-1-1 on the road. That’s quite the road record. We shall see if the Sabres can get the job done tonight at home.
Red-hot Miikka Kiprusoff is in goal tonight for the Flames. He has a .920 Save Percentage and 2.49 GAA. He is also coming off of a shutout.
Ryan Miller gets the nod tonight bud Patrick Lalime (or Lalame, whatever you perfer) is back in the lineup.
Both goalies are at the start of back to back games.
Game starts at 7:30 and should be on MSG.
See you tomorrow for (possible) analysis and yet another Sabres vs. Flyers game preview.