The Ottawa Senators are in the midst of a heartbreaking month of February. The Sens have just one win in five games, with all contests being decided by a single goal. Tuesday, the Senators host an unpredictable Buffalo Sabres team in the first of two consecutive games before traveling to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Can the Senators end their slump against the Sabres, or will their poor play continue through this back-to-back?
The Senators have been carried by excellent defense, strong goaltending from Craig Anderson, and high levels of production from players like Kyle Turris, and Daniel Alfredsson. Lately, however, that has not been enough. The injury to Jason Spezza seems to have shaken the Senators a bit, and while they struggle to replace their top-line production, the Sens have slipped into mediocrity.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres have been extremely disappointing. The Sabres appear to have traded scoring ability and skating for toughness in the offseason. After Ryan Miller was injured in a controversial incident that left the Buffalo Sabres looking weak and vulnerable, the team made a point of getting stronger and more aggressive for the 2013 season.
So far, the strategy has failed. Despite the Thomas Vanek starting the season on an incredible run, the Buffalo Sabres lack the depth to compete with the game’s best teams.
Further, the Sabres have seen their recognizable names on defense falter again this season. With limited support, Miller is struggling. The Sabres are the Senators’ only win this month, but they are certainly capable of a road win against the slumping Sens.
In the end, Ottawa must play better. They must find a way to win the close games, and Anderson must stay hot. The Senators are a mediocre team right now, and the Buffalo Sabres are a volatile one. In a must-win game for the slumping Senators, I look for Ottawa to bounce back and find a way to win.
Senators 3 – Sabres 2