GAME PREVIEW: Sabres @ Predators (Saturday, December 3, 2011)

By johnmiller

If playing front of their home crowd can’t give the Buffalo Sabres (13-11-1) a boost, maybe the return of their star goaltender can. The Sabres are on the road Saturday night to face the Nashville Predators (12-9-4).

Ryan Miller will start in goal once again for the Sabres. It’s Miller’s first start since suffering a concussion against the Boston Bruins on November 12th. Anders Lindback is expected to draw the start between the pipes for Nashville.

For the Sabres, Mike Weber, Tyler Myers, Cody McCormick and Brad Boyes are all out indefinitely. Nathan Gerbe and Jordan Leopold are listed as day-to-day for Buffalo.

Blake Geoffrion is out indefinitely for the Predators. Francis Bouillon and Sergei Kostitsyn are listed as day-to-day for Nashville.

It’s tough to know what to make of the Sabres at this point. The good news is, Nashville has looked a lot like the Sabres recently. The Sabres have only won one of their last six games. But the Predators have only won two of their last seven games. And just like Buffalo, Nashville has struggled at home, winning only four of their last thirteen home contests.

At this point, it’s almost redundant to say that the Sabres need to avoid getting in an early hole. Every team should try to avoid going down early. But for the Sabres, it’s been the rule rather than the exception. The Sabres special teams have slowed down recently as well. Both the penalty kill and the power play.

The injuries have absolutely played a role in the Sabres recent struggles. Not only are they missing talented players, their healthy players have been forced to take on additional roles and log more ice-time. It’s really been brutal. On Friday night the Sabres got Tyler Ennis and Patrick Kaleta back. By the end of the game, they’d lost Kaleta to a different injury and Nathan Gerbe to a nasty facial injury.

Some how, some way, the Sabres need to win a game. Before a leak becomes a flood. They definitely have played their best hockey on the road tonight, so they need to take advantage of an opponent who is also struggling. The return of Ryan Miller should provide an emotional boost to a Sabres team that really needs it right now.

Date: Saturday, December 3, 2011
Time: 8:00 ET
Location: Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee

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