The Detroit Red Wings will make the move to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season, which will have them facing off against some less familiar foes. Due to the lockout, they didn’t face any of the Eastern Conference teams last season, but they could do well in an Atlantic Division that features three teams that finished at or near the bottom of the conference last season. One of those teams is the Buffalo Sabres, a team that will be continuing to rebuild and looking to bounce back from the 21-21-6 record they posted in 2013.
As part of the rebuilding process, the Sabres shipped off Jason Pominville, Robyn Regehr and Jordan Leopold in late-season trades. Also gone are Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera, leaving a very young and inexperienced roster. Thomas Vanek will lead the way offensively, while Tyler Myers still anchors the defense and Ryan Miller remains the man between the pipes. The 2013-14 season will be the first full one for head coach Ron Rolston, and the recent addition of Joe Sacco as an assistant coach should help strengthen the staff.
Few things went right for the Sabres last season, as they ranked 22nd in the league in both goals per game and goals against. They had the league’s second-worst power play, and were 26th on the penalty kill. The Red Wings should match up well against the Sabres, and won both games between the two teams during the 2011-12 season (4-1 and 5-0). Among the interesting storylines when these two teams meet is the matchup between Red Wings forward Drew Miller and his brother Ryan, the Sabres’ goaltender. The Sabres also feature former Detroit players or prospects in Ville Leino, Jamie Tardif and Matt Ellis. The first of four meetings between the two teams is Oct. 2, the home opener for the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.