Buffalo Sabres @ Carolina Hurricanes Preview

Zemgus Girgensons, who finished first among all NHL players in all-star game voting, will lead the Sabres into Carolina tonight in search of a much needed win.

Zemgus Girgensons, who finished first among all NHL players in all-star game voting, will lead the Sabres into Carolina tonight in search of a much needed win.

Article Written by Nick Kiser, a new addition to The Herd Report team.

Tonight marks the third game of a four game road trip as the Buffalo Sabres (14-24-3) enter Raleigh, North Carolina to play the Hurricanes (12-24-4). The Sabres have lost five straight games and are currently at a league worst 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. This losing skid comes right after the Sabres were on a hot streak, going 10-3-0 towards the end of December.

Ted Nolan is looking for some urgency and compete from a team that continues to be outshot, outplayed, and outhustled in almost every aspect of the game. In his post game interview following the 4-1 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday, Nolan was quoted in saying the following:

“Whatever you do, you can’t just backcheck to backcheck. You have to backcheck and get in position with a purpose. We need to get some energy and compete in our game. You never know what happens when you do those things.”

A bright spot in that New Jersey game was the effort from veteran defenseman, Josh Gorges. Gorges provided every bit of his own urgency and compete on an impressive backcheck to try and catch Travis Zajac to prevent an eventual shorthanded goal. Gorges, who was two games away from a Stanley Cup Final last year with Montreal, is not taking too kindly to these losing ways and is willing to do everything he can do to win. Gorges had these words to say prior to the game tonight:

“Our job is to focus on what we need to do to be successful each night. You do everything you can to not listen and to not hear what’s going on outside this dressing room…our focus since the start of the year hasn’t been on trying to get the top draft pick. Never in my life have I ever heard of losing on purpose.  That’s a joke to even think about.”

If the Sabres plan on winning against this Carolina team, they will definitely need to find a way to get shots on net. In the 41 games that the Sabres have played so far this season, their opponents have outshot them by 417 shots. Getting shots on net will only be half the battle though, as they face Cam Ward in net, a goalie that has been warming up as of late. In the past five games, Ward has a .926 save percentage against a tough schedule (Tampa Bay, Monteal, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Nashville).

The Hurricanes will also get Alexander Semin back in their lineup tonight, as the Hurricanes are looking to break out of the bottom of the standings. In 22 games this season, Semin has one goal and five assists. Semin will be getting ice time as a right-winger on a Hurricane’s third line centered by Riley Nash, with Jeff Skinner taking the left wing.

Last week, the Hurricanes also got Jordan Staal back in their lineup after Staal missed the first 35 games due to a broken bone in his right leg sustained in a preseason game. Jordan will be centering a strong first line that features his brother Eric on the left wing, and Elias Lindholm on the right wing.

The Hurricanes are hoping to find some offensive power in the return of these two key players. In 40 games played, the Hurricanes have a total of 79 goals for, which puts them second to last to a Sabres team with 78 goals for.

Jhonas Enroth will get the start in net for the Sabres tonight. The Sabres will rely on another strong performance from Enroth in order to right this sinking ship.

Forward Drew Stafford is expected to rejoin the team tonight after his wife gave birth Tuesday night. He will most likely perform the duties as a right wing on Buffalo’s fourth line.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

SABRES

Matt Moulson --- Zemgus Girgensons --- Tyler Ennis

Brian Flynn --- Philip Varone --- Chris Stewart

Cody Hodgson --- Mikhail Grigorenko --- Nicolas Deslauriers

Cody McCormick --- Tim Schaller --- Drew Stafford/Pat Kaleta

 

Josh Gorges --- Tyler Myers

Nikita Zadarov --- Rasmus Ristolainen

Mike Weber --- Tyson Stachan

 

Jhonas Enroth

Michael Neuvirth

 

HURRICANES

Eric Staal --- Jordan Staal --- Elias Lindholm

Nathan Gerbe --- Victor Rask --- Jiri Tlusty

Jeff Skinner --- Riley Nash --- Alexander Semin

Brad Malone --- Jay McClement --- Patrick Dwyer

 

Andrej Sekera --- Justin Faulk

Ron Hainsey --- John-Michael Liles

Tim Gleason --- Ryan Murphy

 

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

 

By Nick Kiser