Buffalo Sabres vs NY Islanders Game Night Preview

Posted on October 16, 2009 by Patrick Moran

 The undefeated in regulation (3-0-1) Buffalo Sabres play host to the New York Islanders (0-1-3), one of the NHL’s two winless teams (Toronto) tonight at the HSBC Arena. It’s the first of back to back home games for the Sabres, who face Atlanta tomorrow.

The teams evenly split last season’s four match ups, going 1-1 in each team’s arena.

 
The Islanders defeated the Sabres last year 4-2 at the Arena November 22 before Buffalo returned the favor in a shoot out 4-3 on December 27. Former Sabre Ales Kotalik led the Sabres with five points in three games versus the Islanders last season. Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Jochen Hecht and Clarke MacArthur each scored a pair of goals. Goaltender Patrick Lalime faced the Islanders in three of the four meetings, going 1-2 with a 2.02 goals against average.  Sean Bergenheim was the only Islander to score multiple goals against the Sabres last season, netting a pair.

 The Sabres

* The Sabres have started the season about as good as head coach Lindy Ruff could hope for. After losing an overtime on opening night to Montreal the team has reeled off consecutive wins against Phoenix, Nashville and Detroit.

* The team leads the NHL in shots on goal, averaging 38.2 per game. They’re also second in shots allowed (22.8) to Chicago.

* Vanek was able to practice on Thursday but is doubtful for tonight with an undisclosed upper body injury. Being so early in the season Ruff is likely to give his star player the entire weekend to fully recover.

* Ryan Miller has shot right out of the gate as an early season Vezina candidate. He’s started all four games and has allowed only five goals this season. He also has a .945 save percentage.

* Derek Roy leads the team in points and assists with five.

* Rookie Tyler Myers has made a strong case to stick with the Sabres. He already has two assists and a positive four plus/minus rating.

* If the Sabres hope to end their two-year playoff drought they’ll have to do a better job against the Eastern Conference’s weaker teams. Between the Islanders and the Thrashers, who they host tomorrow the Sabres went only 2-2-4 against both in 2008-09. By no coincidence they missed the playoffs by two points.

 

The Islanders

* One way or the other the Sabres will be facing a former goaltender between the pipes. Both Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron are on the Islanders.

* Tonight will be Buffalo’s first look at top overall draft pick John Tavares. Of course, Tavares is the nephew of Buffalo Bandits icon of the same name. Tavares is off to a solid start for the Islanders this year, scoring two goals and three assists with a plus one rating in his first four games. Tavares had at least a point in New York’s first three games before being shut off the stat sheet against Los Angeles on Monday.

* The Islanders will take the ice tonight minus forward Trent Hunter (chest muscle), center Frans Nielsen (knee) and star goaltender Rick DiPietro, who has yet to play and isn’t fully recovered from knee surgery.

* New York has yet to earn a win but has also lost only one game in regulation. They already have one loss in OT and two in shootouts.

* The Islanders are captained by center Doug Weight.

* Matt Moulsen is the only New York skater besides Tavares to have scored multiple goals this season. He has two.

* Perhaps the Sabres can expose defensemen Bruno Gervais when he’s on the ice. He’s already a minus-six on the young season.

 
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