Following up a strong performance in the Blues’ 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night should be the goal for Jordan Binnington, but of course, that depends on the choices of head coach Craig Berube. If Berube’s looking to build confidence in his 1A goaltender, he couldn’t find a better opponent.
The Sabres are riding a four game losing streak into Enterprise Center tonight, and it doesn’t look like the odds are in their favor when Buffalo gets here. They’re not a good road team, going 8-14-4 when away from home, but overall, the Sabres are not a good team in general. They had a great start to the season, causing fans to worry that things might just even out from the small sample size, and they’d return to the bottom of the Atlantic Division standings.
To be fair, they are not at the actual bottom of their division. That dubious distinction goes to the Montreal Canadiens, who sit nine points behind the Sabres. Just because the Sabres aren’t having a great year doesn’t mean that they can’t put some pucks in the net against a solid team. Any team can - the Blues learned that last week against the Habs. Taking your foot off of the gas can be dangerous with teams like Buffalo. The Blues nearly did that at times with the Flyers, and Binnington was there to bail them out.
Imagine if Binnington is in prime form, and the Blues don’t start to coast halfway through tonight’s game?
The Sabres rough season has been mitigated by the blooming career of one player in particular: former Blue Tage Thompson. The Sabres finally traded Jack Eichel to the Vegas Golden Knights back in November, ending a protracted duel between the player and the team over Eichel’s right to determine what medical procedure was right for him and his career. Getting that albatross out from around the team’s neck has let Thompson come into his own, and he has clearly relished that responsibility. This season he leads the Sabres in points (38), goals (20), and is second in assists with 18. Assist-machine Rasmus Dahlin has been another key contributor for the Sabres this season, and it looks like Jeff Skinner, also with 20 goals, has found his mojo again.
To be clear, the Blues still won the Ryan O’Reilly trade, but it’s good to see part of it working out for Buffalo. Sometimes you just have to have patience.
To call Craig Anderson a veteran is an understatement - he’s been in the league for nearly 20 seasons - he’s been the centering force in net for the Sabres. His stats (2.92 GAA, .907 SV%) are pretty decent when you consider what team he plays for. Will he be tonight’s starter? The Sabres don’t play again until Sunday, so there will be plenty of time for Anderson to rest up between games.