Author: James O'Brien

Detroit Red Wings v Buffalo Sabres

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings hope to smoke Sabres


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the Buffalo Sabres at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Just about every sign points to the Detroit Red Wings winning tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, possibly by a wide margin.

The game is in Detroit. Both teams are closing off back-to-back sets, so the fatigue factor is more or less balanced. While the Sabres might use a scathing column as bulletin board material, the takeaway is that Buffalo’s been bad … maybe even historically so.

The Red Wings have won three in a row and eight of 11 despite a road-heavy schedule in which they’ve only played two games in Detroit. The Red Wings have generated five of a possible six points against Buffalo so far this season, only dropping a shootout. Even with an injury to Jimmy Howard in mind, Detroit just keeps chugging along with Petr Mrazek acquitting himself nicely.

Oh yeah, the Sabres are also free-falling with 10 straight regulation losses that have largely erased the memory of Jhonas Enroth briefly boosting Buffalo to something resembling competence. (Now at 14-29-3, it’s difficult to picture Buffalo generating a relatively frisky 13-16-2 mark.)

Even with all these points in Detroit’s favor, the Red Wings still need to actually win the game.

In a strange twist, things have gotten toxic enough in Buffalo that a five-game road trip might just be a tonic for the Sabres’ troubles, or at least a change of pace.

(Hey, it’s probably the best way to boost up Buffalo’s downtrodden spirits at this point.)

Long story short, if you need a touch of “David vs. Goliath” in your sports day, then this game should have you covered.

Goalie nods: Detroit’s Mrazek aims to impress

Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings

All the latest from the blue paint …

Amazing Mrazek?

With injuries an issue, it looks like the Detroit Red Wings will give goalie Petr Mrazek back-to-back starts and a great chance to make another impression as they face the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

(Yes, Buffalo deserves “lowly.” One local columnist thinks they’re tanking too hard.)

The Red Wings believe that the 22-year-old could have a real future, but Mrazek may just push things along a little bit if he keeps his current good work up. He’s won three games in a row, including holding the Buffalo Sabres to a single goal on Jan. 13. Going back a little further, he’s won five of six.

Overall, Mrazek is 8-3-1 with a .923 save percentage.

Detroit stands as big favorites here, especially since one seeming disadvantage (playing back-to-back games) is canceled out by the fact that Buffalo played on Saturday as well. The Sabres will probably turn to Jhonas Enroth. Whether it’s Enroth or Michal Neuvirth, they’ll be the underdog against Mrazek and the Red Wings.

Elsewhere …

Stars at Blackhawks: Kari Lehtonen likely against Corey Crawford

Coyotes at Jets: Mike Smith vs. Ondrej Pavelec

Metro sensational: Rangers continue dominance of division, Pens

New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes

With three games in three-and-a-half days (give or take), it seemed like the New York Rangers were set up to stumble against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Instead, they basically ended the game early in the second period and eventually cruised to a convincing 5-2 win.

The Penguins made it 4-2 thanks to a sensational goal by David Perron – who remains hot as he gets acquainted in Pittsburgh – but they never really made the Rangers sweat since Marc-Andre Fleury was scuttled from his net.

(Especially mopey Penguins fans may even argue that it was all over when Rick Nash made it 1-0 just 26 seconds in.)

Any way you slice it, things are trending in the Rangers’ direction.

They’ve won 15 of their last 18 games. New York has throttled the Penguins and other Metropolitan Division opponents; they’re now 3-0-1 against Pittsburgh this season and 13-3-1 in the Metro in 2014-15.

Nash finished the afternoon with two goals, giving him sole possession of the NHL goalscoring lead with 28 tallies. Derek Stepan had two goals of his own while Martin St. Louis and Chris Kreider collected two assists.

About the only troubling moment for the Rangers came when Henrik Lundqvist seemed to be in pain at one point in the third period, although he stayed in and appears to be OK.

(Naturally, if he isn’t, it will be noted.)

Things aren’t so rosy for Pittsburgh, however. Between Friday’s loss to the New York Islanders and today’s defeat, they’ve lost by a combined score of 11-5. They’ve lost four of six and only have four wins since Dec. 22.

At least Perron’s looking great, though:

It’s a long season prone to peaks and valleys, something the slow-starting Rangers can relate to on this torrid run. It’s tough to deny that the Penguins are a little tepid right now, then.

Check out the full highlights below.