This Week in Sabres Hockey: A Fan Guide From Nick Kiser

As the Sabres continue to slide to the bottom of the league standings, so do the ticket prices. Looking at third party ticket sites, like StubHub, I found the cheapest ticket prices for the remaining January games (Detroit, Minnesota, and Philadelphia) and came out to an average ticket price of $29.39. The average ticket price is for a 300 level ticket, but for that price I could maybe afford a quarter of a ticket for a game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (the average price for a Maple Leafs ticket for the same seating arrangements is around $120).

I understand that tickets for the Sabres are not a hot commodity right now, especially with the team losing their last 7 games, but it does give an avid hockey fan a chance to get down to the First Niagara Center to watch the talent and superstars that come in to Buffalo to play our beloved Sabres. I grew up in Binghamton and as a kid I remember my father taking me down to the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena to watch the Binghamton Senators and other future NHLers.

Some of the names that came through Binghamton, playing Rochester, include Ryan Miller, Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford, and the list goes on and on. In fact, my love of Sabres hockey started at the age of 8 when the Ottawa Senators hosted an exhibition game against the Sabres in Binghamton. Knowing that not too many people in Binghamton would be interested in an authentic and signed Matthew Barnaby jersey, my aunt threw some 50/50 tickets in the jar to win that jersey. Well, she ended up winning the jersey and my love of hockey and the Sabres began. In this article, I will do a quick rundown of some of the big names that are slated to make an appearance in Buffalo. If you consider yourself a fan of hockey, I anticipate seeing you at these games, especially with the ticket prices so low.

Detroit Red Wings - Tonight

 Pavel Datsyuk is averaging just under one point per game this season.

Pavel Datsyuk is averaging just under one point per game this season.

This is going to be a very special game for the history of Sabres hockey and the city of Buffalo in general. Preceding the game, Dominik Hasek will have his jersey retired into the rafters amongst some of the best names in Sabres hockey (Perreault, Martin, Robert, Horton, Gare, and LaFontaine). As a fan, I highly respect the Sabres PR department for planning this ceremony to take place before the Red Wings game. After being traded to Detroit, Hasek went on to win 2 Stanley Cups for the Red Wings. It will be a very special moment for both of the teams playing tonight and any hockey fan in attendance.

After the ceremony, the Sabres will also face a tough Detroit lineup. Although they are facing injury and sickness woes, just like the Sabres, their top 2 lines will showcase immense talent in the names of Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, and Niklas Kronwall. In the 42 games that the Red Wings have played, Datsyuk, Tatar, and Zetterberg have a combined total of 40 goals, just 2 goals short of a goal per game. This team is very fun to watch, especially when Pavel Datsyuk is on his game, entering the offensive zone with highlight reel moves.

One disappointment in this Red Wings lineup, that may have GMs taking, is the loss of goalie Jimmy Howard. In Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals, Howard was carted off the ice after what the medical staff is calling a groin injury. Ken Holland, the Red Wings general manager, told reporters that a MRI revealed a groin injury and that the team expects to be without Howard until the All-Star break.

“Right now, he’s got a bit of a slight tear,” Holland said . “That’s great news if that’s all it is.”

For now, the Red Wings will have to start the young backup of 22 years of age, Petr Mrazek. This will be only be Mrazek’s 10th game played this year. In the 9 games that Mrazek has played, he has a record of 5-3-1 with a .916 save percentage, which is a great stat line, but lacking experience. Although I was looking forward to possibly watching Jimmy Howard play against the Sabres, this injury brings up many talks throughout the NHL as the Red Wings look for a goalie and a way to stay in the playoff picture with the Boston Bruin nipping on their heals in the Atlantic.

Thursday, January 15th

Minnesota Wild

 Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo has been rumored to be on the hot seat as Minnesota is currently underachieving with a record of 18-18-5.

Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo has been rumored to be on the hot seat as Minnesota is currently underachieving with a record of 18-18-5.

The Wild are sitting at dead last in the Central Division of the Western Conference. This is quite discerning given the fact that this team made it to the second round of the playoffs last year. In their last 12 games, they have only won 2, a stat that sounds much like something from the Buffalo Sabres. What they lack in goaltending though, sitting dead last in the league with a .900 save percentage, is made up in goal scoring, with the team scoring an average of 2.59 goals a night.

Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek will return to Buffalo and to take on the Sabres for Minnesota. Pominville has been playing the right wing on the Wild’s first line, which features the team’s leading goal scorer Jason Zucker, who has scored 15 goals in 37 games played.  

Minnesota’s blue line will also be sporting Ryan Suter who was just named to the 2015 NHL All-Star roster. In 39 games played for the Wild, Suter has 21 assists, a very impressive number for a stay at home defenseman. Be watching for Suter to label some big hits on Thursday night as he tries to uphold the Wild’s reputation in a league that has been speculating their losing ways.

Saturday, January 17th

Philadelphia Flyers

       The Flyers scored five second period goals to defeat the Lightning 7-3 Monday night.

      The Flyers scored five second period goals to defeat the Lightning 7-3 Monday night.

This will be the first of three times that the Sabres are matched up against the Philadelphia Flyers of the Metropolitan Division. Right now, the Flyers sit at 25th in the league, tied with Columbus. This Flyers team is certainly lacking depth, but that is not to say that their top players are all-stars. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have been consistently giving their best efforts to help this slumping Flyers team. Voracek is currently the league’s leader in assists and points (34 A, 50 P). Combined with Giroux, this duo has 96 points in 42 games played. It will be awesome to watch how these two set up plays and make scoring chances.

If you have any opinions on other players that should have made the list, feel free to let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for checking out the article and as always, “Lets go Buffalo!”