If there's any game to watch tonight, it would be this one.
If it all pans out, this should be a glimpse of the level and competitiveness of play we're going to see in the Eastern Conference playoffs in a few months. The Sabres are motivated by a) playing Drury and b) by virtue of being the Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers are motivated by their 5-0 start; with a win tonight, they would hold the record for the best start to any Rangers' season.
1. Hecht is out with a broken finger for at least two weeks. This puts Clarke Macarthur with the starring center role on the 2nd line between Paille and Pominville. Mair anchors the 3rd line, and the new pick-up Matt Ellis will debut on the 4th.
2. Shanahan still hasn't played a game, as he remains unsigned by the Rangers.
3. Drury isn't the only former Sabre. Remember Kalinin? (Ohhh ... righttt.)
4. Both teams are 100% on the PK.
What to watch for:
1. Faceoffs: Drury is known for being quick on the draw and Roy not so much. Macarthur went 2 for 11 on faceoff draws after stepping in for Hecht against the Islanders on Monday.
2. Goalie match-up: Lundqvist gets a home "rink" boost, but Miller feeds off opposition. In order for the Sabres to stay in the game and not get a headcase about facing a 5-0 opponent, Miller has got to be able to match Lundqvist's play.
3. Macarthur, Ellis, and the entire 4th line: From what I saw against the Islanders, Macarthur fit in just fine with Paille and Pominville. That 2nd line has to do more than "look good"; they have to produce. With the uncertainty of how Ellis is going to fit into the 4th line, and really, the fact that the 4th line is a bunch of rabblerousers, Peters isn't going to be a breakout star, even if he's getting more icetime.
4. Line match-up: It's actually not the Drury-Gomez-Naslund 1st line that's scoring for the Rangers, but their 2nd line with Voros leading the way. I don't know how Ruff is going to play his lines, but I have a feeling that he'll match up Roy against Drury if and when he can, so we'll see even more pressure on Macarthur to go up against Voros.
5. PK and PP: Hopefully the Sabres gained a bit of confidence on both the PK and PP, after starting off pretty poorly in the 1st period against the Isles, despite all the PP chances. Vanek's shorthanded tally shows that he can go defence and offence in his new role on the PK. If the Sabres can continue their pressure, they might just break the Rangers' 100% PK; but on the other hand, the same goes for the Rangers against the Sabres PK.
I'm too nervous to make predictions and I am forced to catch most of this game on radio (but hey, I get Jeanneret calling the game), but I am mad excited for this. LET'S GO BUFFALO!