Scouting Report: Buffalo Sabres
CALGARY, AB -- The Buffalo Sabres are hoping a meeting with the Calgary Flames can help right the ship.
The Sabres, currently 30th in the National Hockey League with just 46 points this season, enter Scotiabank Saddledome losers of six straight contests and 11 points behind the Edmonton Oilers for 29th. The Sabres, who are starting a five-game road trip in Calgary, also have the league’s worst goals for/against differential with a minus-70 mark.
A rash of injuries that feature seven regulars out of the lineup haven’t helped Buffalo, either, as they look to play out the stretch.
This Season: 19-41-8, 46 points (16th in East)
Last season: 21-21-6, 48 points (12th in East)
Notable Injuries: Goaltenders Jonas Enroth (lower body) and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) are both absent from Buffalo’s lineup. Defencemen Tyler Myers (elbow) and Alexander Sulzer (upper body) and forwards Chris Stewart (ankle), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) and Torrey Mitchell (foot) are also injured for the Sabres, though Mitchell is on the trip to Calgary and hopes to play Tuesday.
Flames Season Series Record: 1-0-0
Though he was held pointless in Buffalo’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, Ennis has been the Sabres’ top offensive threat of late. The 24-year-old previously had points in four straight games, including goals in back-to-back contests. In all, the former Medicine Hat Tigers standout leads Buffalo with 18 goals and 36 points.
Hodgson, second on the Sabres with 16 goals and 35 points, has slumped of late. The 24-year-old has just one assist in the past six games following a span that saw the Toronto, ON native record four points in five contests.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Lieuwen stopped all 10 shots faced in his NHL debut in Sunday’s loss to the Canadiens after coming into the game in relief of the injured Enroth. With Neuvirth already out, the 22-year-old former Kootenay Ice goaltender could mark Tuesday’s game against the Flames with his first career start. In 32 games with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, Lieuwen has a 17-11-2 record with a 2.34 goals against and .922 save percentage.
Plucked off waivers from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL Trade Deadline, Conacher is getting plenty of opportunity in Buffalo. The 24-year-old is seeing upwards of 19 minutes of ice time a game, recording a pair of assists in five games with the Sabres. Overall, Conacher has four goals and 22 points in 65 games.
Ristolainen has had an impressive year for his first in North America. Though he has just one goal in 21 games with the Sabres this season, the 19-year-old has been impressive with Rochester, amassing six goals and 18 points in 30 games. Currently up with Buffalo, the 6-foot-4, 219-pound rookie is averaging 17:26 of ice time this season.