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Buffalo Sabres Hope for Bounceback Against Florida Panthers

February 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 AM
By Paul Lane Sabres 101
If there's an advantage to the Buffalo Sabres having to play three games in four days, it's that memories are forced to be short.
 
Indeed, Buffalo's 7-4 thrashing of the Bruins already seems like ancient history, especially when put in the context of the Sabres' next game, Saturday's 6-1 mauling in Montreal. But with Buffalo back on home ice this afternoon against Florida (3 p.m., MSG), the Sabres at least won't have any time to dwell on the blowout loss.
 
'Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff' photo (c) 2009, Roswell Park - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
 
Buffalo managed only one shot on goal in the first period and surrendered three second-period goals Saturday. Coach Lindy Ruff said the entire team has to share the blame for the loss, which drops the Sabres to 3-4-1:
"We didn't have our 'A' game right off the bat. We started in the second, but it was too late. It's a collective effort. You can't point fingers at anybody."
That's not entirely true. Defensemen Tyler Myers and Jordan Leopold struggled again. Each had a -3 rating and offered littel resistance to Montreal scorers, who were able to ease their way around the blueliners as if they were junior players. They are now -7 (Leopold) and -6 (Myers) for the season, leaving many to question whether they should spend some time in the press box.
Including the players themselves.
"You see me out there," Myers said after the game when asked about his confidence. "What do you think?"
They're not the only ones to blame, though. Ryan Miller actually played admirably despite surrendering four goals in 40 minutes, but his skaters left him to fend for himself often, as their half-hearted poke check attempts and lackadaisical skating allowed Montreal's forward to pressure Miller at will.
 
Players think the game was more of an anomaly than a trend, however.
"At this point, you know what went wrong," forward Drew Stafford said. "It’s something as simple as work, and it’s something that we can address as a group. We have to get ready to come out flying."
Playing a Panthers team buried at the bottom of the Eastern Conference is a good way to resume flight. The 2-5-0 Panthers don't play offense (2.3 goals per game, 22nd in the NHL) or defense (3.9 goals per game, 28th) well and are winless so far on the road.
Florida is coming off its best game of the season, though, a 6-3 win over Winnipeg. And the Panthers haven't played since Thursday, meaning they'll be well-rested coming into First Niagara Center.
 
Tomas Fleischmann leads the Panthers with seven points. Former Sabre Brian Campbell and Peter Mueller each have three goals to pace Florida. Jose Theodore has gotten the bulk of the time in net, going 2-4-0 with a 3.39 GAA thus far.
Tags: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Hockey, NHL

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