Buffalo Sabres vs. Vancouver Canucks Preview

The Buffalo Sabres (18-38-50) return home from a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday to face the Vancouver Canucks (35-22-3) in a game scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM ET. This is the final of two meetings between the cross-league teams. In the first meeting, Vancouver easily took the game by a score of 5-2 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC.

With this game falling late in the season, the injury bug is making its way around for both teams. Both Sabres forwards Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons will not be in the lineup for Buffalo tonight. Following the game on Tuesday in which both players were injured, Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said that “one injury doesn’t look too good,” and leaned towards the implication that it was the injury forward Zemgus Girgensons sustained while blocking a slapshot.

After scoring a goal and tallying an assist, Zemgus Girgensons left Tuesday's game agaisnt the Blue Jackets with an apparent lower-body injury that will keep him out for an extended period of time.  Photo courtesy of Cody Goloubef/AP

After scoring a goal and tallying an assist, Zemgus Girgensons left Tuesday's game agaisnt the Blue Jackets with an apparent lower-body injury that will keep him out for an extended period of time. 

Photo courtesy of Cody Goloubef/AP

After the morning skate at First Niagara Center today, Nolan addressed the media on the recent injuries. This is what he had to say:

On Ennis: “Ennis will be out at least tonight, he is day-to-day and we will see how he mends.”

On Girgensons: “Zemgus (injury) is bad but not as bad as we thought. Good news is that we should see him back before the end of the season.”

With these two key forwards out, Zac Dalpe and Phil Varone get the call-ups from Rochester. Dalpe has been playing great hockey as of late for the Amerks. In his last 4 games for Rochester, he has 3 points (3 G, 0 A). He will be looking to carry this confidence into tonight’s game, as he is most likely to be paired alongside Varone who is currently the Amerks leading scorer with 43 points in 52 games.

Ryan Miller’s return to Buffalo tonight was cut short following a collision involving him and Islanders forward Jannik Hansen in a Sunday night game in Vancouver. On a play moving into the Canucks zone, Hansen crashed the net, lost an edge, and slid into Miller’s pads. Not knowing he was injured, the play continued on and the Islanders were even able to get a shot off at the injured Miller. Miller had to leave the game and upon further evaluation it was announced that he would miss 4-6 weeks due to his injury.

From what he had to say on Twitter, it appeared as if he was just as excited as many of the fans that bought tickets in advanced to see the franchise goalie return to the city that once chanted his name shutout after shutout, win after win.

With Miller out, backup Eddie Lack will most likely get the nod for the Canucks tonight in net. In 16 starts for Vancover this year, Lack has a 7-7-2 record with a .921 save percentage. From here on out, or until Miller returns, the Canucks will be relying on Lack to hold the team in playoff contention.

Michal Neuvirth will start his seventh-straight game for Buffalo tonight. Since the trade that sent Jhonas Enroth to Dallas, Neuvirth has made 220 saves and has a .952 save percentage. Another strong performance tonight will undoubtedly have GM Tim Murray’s phone ringing with the Monday trade deadline approaching.   

Tonight will also be newly acquired defenseman Zach Bogosian’s 400th career game played in the NHL. In his six games with the Sabres so far, Bogosian has averaged 28:08 of ice time and has had one assist, 30 hits, and 20 blocked shots. It will be interesting to see how his milestone is commemorated given the fact that he has only played 6 games as a Sabre.

The game will be covered on MSB-B with the usual TOPS Pregame kicking off at 6:30. It can also be heard on the Sabres flagship station, WGR 550.