Buffalo Sabres May Lock Up 30th Place Tonight: Game Preview

Mikhail Grigorenko has one goal in 22 games this season.

Mikhail Grigorenko has one goal in 22 games this season.

The Buffalo Sabres welcome the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the First Niagara Center in what will be the second last home game of the year.  After an action packed weekend against the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders, “pro-tank” fans have a chance to rest easy with a loss tonight.  

Carolina is coming off a win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon with the game winner coming from Chris Terry in the shootout.  Cam Ward recorded 21 saves in the win and stopped both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek in the shootout while also holding the duo pointless in the contest.  Not an easy feat for any goaltender given that both Giroux and Voracek rank among the top 15 in points scored this season.  

The Sabres and Hurricanes have met twice this season in Carolina and the season series is tied at one apiece with the Hurricanes taking the most recent win back in January.  Marcus Foligno is a player to watch as he had two goals in his one game against Carolina earlier this season.  He also scored two goals Saturday vs Chicago.  Phillip Varone and Tyson Strachan are also a few players with somewhat of a lucky hand against Carolina both with two points in two match ups with the Canes this season.  Rasmus Ristolainen has stepped up his play over the past few games recording seven points in his last five games played.  Thats approximately one third of his production for the 75 games he’s played this season, stuffed into the last five games.  To say that Ristolainen is developing right on schedule would be putting it lightly, he's a six-foot four, 219 pound, 20 year old Finnish monster who will likely anchor the defense with skill and intimidation for many years to come.

Justin Faulk is currently having a career year posting an impressive 48 points through 78 games and he leads the Hurricanes with over 24 minutes of ice time per night.  Jordan and Eric Staal combined for three points in the Hurricanes win over Philadelphia on Saturday with former Sabre Nathan Gerbe adding in four shots and a hit.

In terms of the tank, Arizona’s remaining schedule is anything but favorable to pro-tanking Sabres fans as they play Calgary on Tuesday, Vancouver on Thursday, and Anaheim on Saturday.  With the playoffs knocking at the door no western conference team will be giving an inch to a bottom feeder like the Coyotes.  If Buffalo loses tonight, all worries will be put aside as 30th place and a guaranteed top 2 pick will be locked up.