The Buffalo Sabres have done something they haven’t done since November by winning consecutive games. They head into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) looking to keep the good mojo going but they’ll have to do it against a Rangers team upset about losing to New Jersey last night and without a key member of their offense.
Thomas Vanek left last night’s win against Montreal with an upper body injury and will be out at least for a week. Luckily for Buffalo disappointing forward Ville Leino stepped up big last night and they’ll be hoping that’s a sign he’s snapped out of his season-long funk. Vanek being one of the Sabres’ top two scorers (Jason Pominville the other) makes his injury a potentially devastating one as the rest of Buffalo’s offense has been spotty.
With Vanek out, the focus shifts to goalie Ryan Miller to be a lot better than he has been. Miller’s disappointing season has contributed to the Sabres’ struggles this season, but without Vanek around to help bail out the defense with his goals, Miller is going to have to get tough and play huge.
As for the Rangers, life on top of the Eastern Conference would seem to be easy. Marian Gaborik is scoring goals in bunches, Henrik Lundqvist is playing as well as he ever has, and their defense would dive in front of a bullet to stop a scoring chance. Although they’re coming off a tough loss to New Jersey last night, that came in a game they thought they played pretty well.
Expect to see more of the same from the Rangers as they hope to spoil the Sabres’ recent era of good feelings as they hope to get into the mix for the playoffs.
Derek Roy has finally found work — but it’s not in the NHL.
Roy, who spent the entire preseason in Washington’s camp on a PTO, has signed with SC Bern of Switzerland’s National League A, the club announced on Friday.
The news comes after Roy narrowly missed out on making the Caps roster, and just one year after he had something of a bounce-back campaign in Edmonton, scoring 22 points in 46 games while developing chemistry with young winger Nail Yakupov.
A 12-year NHL veteran, Roy is one of the more prominent names to be squeezed out of work this season, and head overseas. The 31-year-old has scored over 500 points in 738 career contests, and has twice represented Canada at the World Hockey Championships.
With Bern, Roy will play on one of Switzerland’s stronger teams, alongside a trio of ex-NHLers: Chuck Kobasew, Andrew Ebbett and Cory Conacher.
Robin Lehner might not be back anytime soon.
Making his debut with the Buffalo Sabres, the 24-year-old goaltender couldn’t complete Thursday’s game against his former squad, the Ottawa Senators, due to what has now been revealed to be a right leg injury.
When he left the arena, he was wearing a walking boot on that nearly went up to his knee.
“It doesn’t look like it’s short term,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “It’s more than day-to-day at this point, but we need to evaluate further.”
It’s a rocky start to what’s an important campaign for Lehner. He has been given an opportunity to demonstrate that he’s ready to be a starting goaltender after being acquired by the Sabres over the summer, but it looks like that will have to be postponed.
While he’s sidelined, Chad Johnson is likely to be leaned on heavily.