Game Preview: Buffalo Sabres @ Atlanta Thrashers
On this fine Thursday evening, the Buffalo Sabres (28-11-5) travel to hotlanta to take on the Atlanta Thrashers (20-19-6). This is the third meeting of these two teams with the series tied at 1 win apiece. The Sabres are currently on a 1 game losing streak whereas the Thrashers are on a 1 game winning streak.
The Thrashers last game was a 6-1 rout of the Ottawa Senators. Ilya “The-Fate-of-this-Entire-Franchise-Rests-on-my-Shoulders” Kovalchuk had a goal and two assists in a game that saw former Sabre Eric Boulton open the scoring with his second of the year. It’s totally OK that he only has two goals though because he is an enforcer and has a douchebag
haircut equivalent to “The Situation”. It was a solid win for the Thrashers against a (really) struggling Ottawa team that has now lost 5 straight.
On the Buffalo side of things, the Sabres last game was a shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Due to the intense amount of gloating I tend to do, I have to do something personal for a moment. I have a friend who is a huge Avalanche fan. I told him all year that we would destroy the Avs in our only meeting with them this season. The opposite happened. So with great regret I have to swallow my pride and say something: Bryan Sibbitts, you win this round. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Sabres ended losing in the 11th shootout round on a goal from sophomore forward Matt Hendricks. Yeah, I didn’t know he existed either. It was a pretty balanced game with both teams putting up a decent amount of shots. Buffalo won that category 35-30. Both Patty Lalime and Craig Anderson had a pretty back and forth game, especially in the shootout. It was a game I would’ve liked to have back but I’ll take the one point and walk.
I’m not going to do the Hots and Nots this week because I really don’t feel like it and I’m getting a little tired of the same format for every preview. And it’s my blog and I can do what I want. So there. Ha.
The Sabres have gone 5-1 in their last 6 games and seem to be clicking pretty well. It’s nice to see that Vanek potted another goal against the Avs. If we want to continue to challenge for the top spot in the east, offensive productivity is a must (as I stressed yesterday). Vanek is the type of guy that can easily be a game-changer. If he gets on a roll there really is no stopping him. It’s about time one player stepped up for this team and really took over the offensive reigns and I’m calling it now. It’ll be Thomas Vanek. He needs to follow in the footsteps of current rising star Ryan Miller and really start taking over games. What night would be better than tonight? C’mon T.V., show the Russian powerhouse that is the Atlanta Thrashers what an Austrian man can do!
For every breakout scorer there is also usually a second-in-command type of guy. That man will be Timmy Connolly. He is already on a roll for the Sabres, netting points in numerous games the past few weeks. If he can get going at the same time as Vanek, we will be literally unstoppable. Like Team Pup-n-Suds in the Disney movie “Brink”. Vanek will be the standout that is Andy “Brink” Brinker and Connolly will be Peter who is almost as good as Brink but doesn’t have quite the abilities (or dimples) the Brink brings to the table. And if you’ve never seen Brink and have no idea what I’m talking about then A.) I’m sorry that I went on this long rant and you have no clue what I’m talking about and B.) WHAT THE HELL?! WHY HAVEN’T YOU SEEN THE GREATEST MADE FOR DISNEY MOVIE OF ALL TIME?!?!?! Here, watch this and you’ll be in the know:
For Atlanta, they need to do what they do best: Get pucks to the net. There is no way this team can win without peppering opposing goalies. Kovalchuk is one the best forwards in the league and he can beat goalies like very few other players in the league. If he can continue to find a way to get to the net, with the help of Maxim(um) Afinogenov, then he will be quite the force to be reckoned with. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec has taken over quite well for the Thrashers. He stepped in at a time when the team was uncertain where they would be goaltending wise. His Save Percentage is a .92 and he keeps getting better.
The aforementioned Ondrej Pavelec gets the start tonight for the Thrashers. He is currently 10-12-3 this year and his GAA is a whopping 3.55. Yikes. Let’s hope we can get it even higher tonight.
Of course, The Man, The Myth, The Miller: Ryan Miller will be between the pipes for the Sabres this evening. He is 28-5-3 and leads the league in save percentage with .935. Woot!
Game is on at 7:00 on MSG.
See you tomorrow!