Back-to-back games are always a test for teams. You have to bring the same effort and intensity for two straight nights. And while the Buffalo Sabres (16-12-3) haven’t had the best couple of weeks, they need to find a way to build momentum.
Last Saturday, the Sabres got drilled 4-1 by the New York Rangers. Then on Tuesday night, Buffalo lost in overtime 3-2 to the despised Ottawa Senators. But luckily, the Sabres got to play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday. The Sabres have dominated the Leafs since the lockout, beating them more times than any other team. The Sabres managed to squeeze out the 5-4 victory at home.
Injuries still remain a huge issue for Buffalo. Forward Ville Leino is now out indefinitely with what is being called a “lower-body injury”. Ryan Miller is back and he’s healthy, but he’s not quite in top form yet. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville continue to carry the offense, although several players have picked up their games lately. Most notably Tyler Ennis and Derek Roy.
Buffalo has recalled LW Colin Stuart from Rochester. Defenseman Tyler Myers remains on track to return shortly after Christmas. Jochen Hecht is still listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and he’s most likely the closest to a return to the ice.
The Sabres travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins on Saturday night. The Pittsburgh squad is still very dangerous, despite losing Sidney Crosby indefinitely after his concussion-like symptoms returned. It’s unknown whether Jhonas Enroth will be in net or if Ryan Miller is go to go on back-to-back nights.
If there’s one thing the Sabres can be thankful for, it’s that their star player’s concussion hasn’t proven to be that serious. When you look around the NHL right now, you can’t help but notice how many star players are unavailable due to head injuries. We all hate these vague “lower-body injuries” but those injuries are child’s play compared to these head injuries.