The Blues put themselves in a tough spot against the Capitals early, enough so that they couldn't dig themselves out for the rest of the game. It had to be damn frustrating to put 47 shots on goal, and to have only scored one time out of that effort. Fortunately, there's a really horrible team in Buffalo to take those frustrations out on. At least they'll have time for a nap first...
Yes, the Buffalo Sabres are a pretty bad team, or at least, off to a pretty crummy start. Right now they sit with 11 points, absolute bottom of the standings, with a record of 5-16-1. Eleven points in 22 games translates to a 41-point season. To put that into context, Chicago and Anaheim already have 32 points so far. Only 1 team in the Eastern Conference has allowed more than Buffalo's 68 goals. They've traded their highest-value skater in Thomas Vanek, and All-Star/Olympian/Last-Player-Worth-A-Damn Ryan Miller is widely considered to be on the way out as well (and no, not to St Louis. Just... No). Buffalo is the birthplace of "Corsi" ... and they rank 2nd from the bottom there, as well; the Sabres are responsible for only 42.6% of shot attempts in their games. To add insult to injury, they have some of the most reviled third-jerseys in the league... and even worst than that - their captain is Steve Ott.
Eventually, the fans and the ownership couldn't take it any longer, and on November 13, GM Darcy Regier and Head Coach Ron Rolston were sacked. They reached out all around the world to Latvia, and brought in former bench boss Ted Nolan back as interim coach. Nolan has already won a game with the Sabres, albeit against a hobbled Toronto Maple Leafs team. The GM role has not been filled yet, but St Louis-born Pat LaFontaine has been brought on board as President of Hockey Operations, and he will be hiring someone to fill that spot. My fervent hope is that Buffalo hires Brett Hull as GM, only because it would set up one of the greatest Awkward Moments of All Time. Oh, baby!
As poorly-built and under-performing as the Sabres are, you can't afford to take any NHL team lightly. You do so at your own peril. Of the 5 wins that the Sabres have, 2 of them are against the LA Kings and the San Jose Sharks, some of the tougher teams in the league to beat. Cody Hodgson is the team leader in both goals (7) and overall points (16). Thomas Vanek was traded away back on October 27th for Matt Moulson, yet they are both tied for second in overall points, with 9 each. In other words, the player that's only been there for the past 9 games has passed everyone else on the team, except the guy he was traded for, and the team leader. It may say more about Matt Moulson than it does about his teammates. I'd consider him the most dangerous player out there, to be honest.
As for goaltending, Ryan Miller has been having an outstanding season so far, despite playing on this team. His record is 4-11-0, but with a 3.13 GAA and an impressive .919 save percentage. Having split the Toronto home-and-home series with his backup, Jhonas Enroth, I'd imagine Miller will be back in goal for this game. If it should come to that, Enroth's numbers are 1-5-1 with a 2.88 / .906 stat line.
Final Verse: Once again, East Coast means early starts. The puck drops at 6:00 St Louis time, and the Game Day Thread will drop shortly ahead of that. The TV broadcast is on Fox Sports Midwest, and the radio call is on KMOX 1120 AM. Until the GDT comes along, gather here and make your best "Wide, Right" jokes. Also, enjoy an ad that's a little dated, but still holds up...
Buffalo Sabres Trade Deadline FIRE SALE!!!! (via jenrossi1991)