In case you haven’t heard, the Buffalo Sabres aren’t doing so hot this season. When they head to Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks (7:30 p.m. ET) they’ll be running into a team eager to keep them down and perhaps force changes to happen in Buffalo.
The Sabres have lost 13 of their last 17 games (4-10-3) and fallen back to 11th in the Eastern Conference. Ryan Miller has had perhaps his worst pro season yet and is getting such a rough ride from the home fans that even Buffalo native Patrick Kane wishes they’d take it easy on him. Miller’s woes have been emblematic of everything going wrong with the Sabres though.
The defense has looked rough and even though there are injuries throughout the lineup, even when they’ve been healthy they’ve struggled. Christian Ehrhoff, when healthy, hasn’t been the point producing superstar they hoped he would be while Tyler Myers has struggled as well. Robyn Regehr even hasn’t been as strong defensively as they hoped.
Mix in all those woes with a forward unit that’s had essentially only one good line featuring Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek and you’ve got troubles. The Sabres need more from guys like Derek Roy, Ville Leino, Drew Stafford, and Brad Boyes and it just isn’t happening.
Meanwhile, life is comparatively easy for the Blackhawks. Marian Hossa has been a monster, Jonathan Toews keeps doing his thing leading the team, and even Patrick Kane’s goal scoring slump hasn’t been all that noticeable. Getting inspired play from rookie Andrew Shaw has helped them overcome nagging injuries as well. As one of the top teams in the West, it’s hard to be too critical of Chicago’s play.
That said, Chicago would like to get things straightened out as well. The Blackhawks have dropped six of their last ten games (4-4-2) and are in the middle of an all out brawl with Detroit and St. Louis in the Central. It’ll be up to Corey Crawford to get hot and have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook step up bigger to keep pace with the rest of the division.