I'm going to play off of the infamous "Ek Factors" for this one, and give you the "Mill Factors" for this game. BTW, before I get started, Ek and his family remains in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Get well soon Ek!
Senateurs d'Ottawa (2-5-1, 14th in conference)
at Buffalo Sabres (6-0-2, 2nd in conference)
Monday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. EST at HSBC Arena
1. Last Game Carry-Over:
Sabres 0, Sens -2
Ottawa's confidence is reeling after the loss to Toronto. Sabres played a good road game in Colorado and picked up a point.
2. Revenge Factor:
Sabres 0, Sens 0
Too early into the season, but revenge will be a factor between these teams later in the year.
3. Style Versus Opponent:
Sabres +2, Sens +2
There's no denying these teams match up well.
4. Faith in Goaltending:
Sabres +1, Sens -2
Lalime likely gets the nod for Buffalo, per the Buffalo News. Not as reliable as Miller, but has looked good in limited time so far. Don't even mention the word goaltender in Ottawa right now.
Sabres -2, Sens +1
Buffalo misses Hecht, Rivet and Gaustad. Alfie helps the Sens more than most people realize and he's back in action.
6. Confidence vs. Frustration (negative numbers are frustration, positive are confidence):
Sabres +2, Sens -1
Sabres exceeding expectations. Ottawa going in the wrong direction.
Sabres +2, Sens +3
Sens may approach this game as an opportunity. No one expects them to come away with 2 points. They'll go all out, particularly relieved Miller won't be in nets. As for Buffalo, they're redefining the word aggressive. Kaleta will get under the Sens' skin early.
8. Desperation Factor:
Sabres -1, Sens +2
Ottawa needs this game FAR more than Buffalo.
9. Special Teams
Sabres +2, Sens +1
Buffalo has been impressive on the PP and PK this year. Ottawa can strike on the power play at any time.
10. Below, Meeting, or Beyond Expectations this Season (zero is meeting)
Sabres +1, Sens -1
11. Let Down/ Fatigue Factor
Sabres 0, Sens 0
Both teams should be well rested.
12. Key Injuries
Sabres -2, Sens 0
Buffalo's hurting here. Rivet, Hecht, Gaustad, as mentioned earlier. Also Connolly.
13. Fan Factor
Will be a revved up crowd for this one.
Ottawa needs this game far more than the Sabres, and they're facing Buffalo at a good time in that no one expects them to win, and word is they'll play against Lalime instead of Miller. Also, Ottawa will look to exploit a Gaustad-less, Hecht-less, Rivet-less Sabres squad, because those guys won't be out forever.
But this is also a different Buffalo team than the Sens' have faced in the past. In a different mold. They're feisty, they're aggressive, they're committing to D first, and Thomas Vanek's confidence is as high as ever. Those spell trouble for Ottawa.
This game COULD potentially be "the last straw" if Ottawa gets blown out....in terms of big changes needed and that may start at head coach. No one is safe in Canada's capital city right now. As a Sabres fan, I'd love to see that happen in the form of a 5-1, 6-1 thrashing.
But the Senators have more character than that. They see this game as an opportunity. I give them the benefit of the doubt to show up. It'll be close, but confidence is important and when it comes down to it, Buffalo's just the better team right now.
See you on the ice.