LA Kings @ Buffalo Sabres Preview & What's Up With Chris Stewart?

LA Kings (14-8-5) @ Buffalo Sabres (9-16-2)


The 2013 Stanley Cup Champions enter town tonight off a poor 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.  Before that loss, LA was rolling with back to back shutouts over Boston and Arizona.  LA has struggled in Buffalo over the past few years as the Sabres hold a 9-1 record at home vs LA in the past ten matchups.  The last time LA played in Buffalo was November 12th, 2013 which is also the last night of the Darcy Regier tenure.  The next day, Pat Lafontaine and Ted Nolan were introduced as the saviors of this franchise.  Feels like much more than 56 weeks ago…

Buffalo has lost their last two games after they went 6-1 through the second half of November.  This is the beginning of a four game home stretch for Buffalo while tonight marks the opening of a five game road trip for LA.  Drew Stafford returned to the lineup Saturday in a 3-2 loss at Florida and scored in doing so.  

An interesting development occurred earlier today as Chris Stewart was announced as the healthy scratch for tonight.  After spending time as the “extra skater” throughout the morning skate, he was seen doing extra skating with some of the coaching staff after practice.  He even avoided the media by changing outside of the dressing room as well as having his equipment sent through the are occupied by the media in a shopping cart. 

 Chris Stewart has three goals and an assist in 27 games played this season.

Chris Stewart has three goals and an assist in 27 games played this season.

Chris Stewart has been one of the more interesting players on the roster this season.  He has displayed a gritty game with some offensive ability, so why don’t fans love him? The fact of the matter is, Stewart has not demonstrated the consistency that Nolan wants.  Less than two weeks ago, Stewart appeared to have found his offensive game as he tallied two goals in three games.  Since then, Stewart hasn’t shown the same offensive promise or even the same grit that would typically pop off a television set.  Nolan was straight forward about his decision to scratch Stewart this morning.

“He’s a big, powerful forward.  Powerful forwards can’t be playing a soft game.”

Is the beginning of the end to Stewart’s short tenure in Buffalo, or simply a wake up call?  What is the trade value that Stewart may possess?  All interesting questions that may figure themselves out sooner rather than later.

Jonathan Quick will start for LA while Jhonas Enroth will get the start for Buffalo.  Enroth has a 1.34 GAA in his last four home starts.