NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Buffalo Sabres host the San Jose Sharks at the First Niagara Center at 7:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.
First things first, it’s important to note that Buffalo’s experiencing some intense snowfall, so there’s a decent chance that this game might get postponed. Stay tuned for updates in that regard.
If a contest does happen on Tuesday, it would be weirdly fitting for the Sharks. After all, it’s been a bumpy road for San Jose figuratively speaking, so why not make it literal at the end?
As CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz notes, the Sharks became the first NHL team to start a season with 15 of 20 games on the road this weekend, and this will wrap up 16 away games in 21. There’s only so much that can sugarcoat some of the disappointments in a 10-8-2 start, yet it’s reasonable to wonder if there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for San Jose.
Struggling Sharks and Sabres
One of the biggest letdowns was a flat 2-1 loss to the Sabres on Oct. 25. It had the makings of a confidence-builder for the Sharks; Buffalo was closing off a back-to-back set, causing an already vulnerable team to seem like easy prey. Instead, San Jose woke up far too late and dropped a clunker in one of its rare early-season home games.
The Sharks are coming off of a 2-0 win against Carolina on Sunday, but they can attribute that to the surprisingly strong play of Troy Grosenick, who pitched a 45-save shutout in his NHL debut.
San Jose only managed 19 shots on goal against the Hurricanes, adding another bit of evidence that the Sharks are still searching for their game.
It will be interesting to see if they produce a better performance against the Sabres. Buffalo’s coming off a 6-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs from Saturday, which broke a five-game skid. The Sabres only have two wins since beating the Sharks, with one of them being a shootout victory.
A few things to look for
Joe Thornton has been a little more goal-minded than usual, at least for a player whose shots often seemed to be failed passes. He has seven goals so far in 2014-15, just four short of last season’s total. Merely being marginally more trigger-happy can make “Jumbo Joe” a bigger threat.
It’s unclear if the Sharks will give Grosenick another look after that shutout or go back to Antti Niemi. The Sabres seem pretty certain to give Michal Neuvirth another spin, though.
This season’s loss isn’t the only example of San Jose struggling against Buffalo, by the way; the Sharks are 0-6-1 in their last seven games against the Sabres.