Gameday Preview: Senators at Sabres

Much has been made of Ottawa’s diminishing chance of making the postseason and last night’s win only improved the Senators’ chance of making the postseason by 1.9-percent, but if this team is going to get there, it’s going to have to string together some wins.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Sabres
Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres watches as teammate Patrick Kaleta #36 kneels to block a shot by Bobby Ryan #6 of the Ottawa Senators at First Niagara Center on October 4, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. Ottawa defeated Buffalo 1-0. (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

Ottawa Senators (12-14-5)
@
Buffalo Sabres (6-22-2)
First Niagara Center: 7:00 pm ET

Storylines…

Coming off an emotional 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Senators travelled to Buffalo where they will take on a Sabres team that has only won once in its last nine games.

Much has been made of Ottawa’s diminishing chance of making the postseason and last night’s win only improved the Senators’ chance of making the postseason by 1.9-percent, but if this team is going to get there, it’s going to have to string together some wins.

Tonight marks the first time that the Senators have played Buffalo since their opening night 1-0 win on October 4th, but having only lost once in regulation in their past nine games versus Buffalo, you could not possibly ask for a better opponent than the team that owns the NHL’s worst record.

Considering that Ottawa has only won back-to-back games three times this season, the Sabres present the perfect opportunity for the Senators to gain some ground in the Eastern Conference.

Working in Ottawa’s favour is that they have had some recent historical success against the Sabres — one of the worst statistical teams in the NHL this season.

Not only have the Sabres averaged the fewest goals per game in the NHL with 1.60, they are statistically the worst puck possession team in the NHL.

The added intrigue in this matchup centers around news that Ottawa’s Assistant General Manager, Tim Murray, will be interviewing with the Sabres for their vacant General Manager position this week. So with this information, what better time than to introduce the inaugural Tim Murray Trophy – in which the loser of this week’s back-to-back Sabres/Senators games (through two losses or an aggregate score) would acquire or retain the rights to Ottawa’s assistant general manager Tim Murray?

Tim Murray Trophy

Thanks to @bringbacklee for the image.

Kidding aside, much has been made over Buffalo’s due diligence in their search for a a new general manager and it remains to be seen in which direction they will go in. The hiring of Tim Murray, renowned for his player evaluation, would not only strengthen the Sabres, it would be a significant blow to their Atlantic Division rival.

Interesting Stat #1

The rebuilding Buffalo Sabres have hoarded a combined total of 17 first and second round picks over a four-year span that began in 2012 and will continue until 2015. With Matt Moulson and Ryan Miller slated to hit UFA, this total could continue to grow.

Interesting Stat #2

The Buffalo Sabres have scored one goal or fewer in 15 of their 30 games this season – putting them on pace to score one goal or fewer in 41 games. If they manage to do fulfill that pace, they would surpass the 1928/29 Chicago Blackhawks and the 1997/98 Tampa Bay Lightning’s record for having the fewest number of games scoring one or fewer goals with 36.

Interesting Stat #3

Robin Lehner has lost his only career start versus the Sabres, but Craig Anderson has an 8-3-1 career record, a 2.41 GAA and a .927 save percentage in his 13 appearances against Buffalo.

Interesting Stat #4

Having only won once in his past six starts, Ryan Miller it is expected to make his first start since losing to the Rangers on December 5th. Jhonas Enroth (1-6-2) started on Saturday night in Montreal and lost for the first time in his career versus Montreal.

Interesting Stat #5

Including his two goal performance last night, Clarke MacArthur has eight goals and 13 points in his last 11 games played. He has scored on 32-percent of his shots (eight of 25) during this time.

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