Morning Skate: Sabres at Red Wings Preview

Rick Stewart

East Coast Bias? You better believe it. The Atlantic has no idea what's about to hit them.

8p ET, Joe Louis Arena

Detroit, MI

TV: NBCSN, TSN2

Radio: 97.1 The Ticket

Sabres Blog: Die By The Blade

Detroit Red Wings Tickets

An American author named Horace Greeley once wrote the famous words, "Go west, young man."

Well, with all due respect Mr. Greeley, screw you and screw the Western Conference.

It's 2013. It's the future. It's all about the East now and forever. We as fans, and the Red Wings as an organ-i-zation, have waited for the move to the best side of the country for a long, long time. It's finally here. We're finally here. The Red Wings are finally here… and they're here to kick the shit out of the "big, bad, tougher" Eastern teams.

The first victim on the Eastern Conference Welcome Tour? The Buffalo Sabres. A team rebuilding (maybe?)… but also a team that has spent money in the past (see: Erhoff, Christian & Myers, Tyler)… and a team that's not trading their best assets to fully rebuild (see: Miller, Ryan & Vanek, Thomas). Who knows? What we do know is they're not supposed to be very good and the Wings outclass them at just about every position on the ice.

But the Sabres are tougher! They've got Steve Ott! Patrick Kaleta! John Scott!!?!!! He'll go after our star players! We need a goon! We need to fight! Oh, I pity those who think that. The Wings are going to be just fine. Send Scott on the ice tonight. Send him out on the ice every single game against the Wings. Pleeeeeease do it. I dare you. He doesn't stand a chance.

One of the biggest questions during the offseason has been if the Wings can hang with the "tough" teams. Well, truthfully, Yahoo's Nick Cotsonika nailed it in his recent Stanley Cup contenders article:

Some think the Wings will have to adjust. The Wings are built on skill; six of their seven division rivals were among the top 11 teams in fighting last season. But the Wings feel the rest of the new Atlantic Division will have to adjust to them, and a player from a former Western Conference rival said: "They’ll win that division – easily."

That statement is 100% pure fact -- easily.

Bring it on, Buffalo. Bring it on Eastern Conference. It's a whole new era in the NHL.

The Red Wings dominance begins tonight.

The Quest for 12 is on.

The Expected Lineup

Forwards

Justin Abdelkader Pavel Datsyuk Henrik Zetterberg
Johan Franzen Stephen Weiss Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Cleary Joakim Andersson Todd Bertuzzi
Drew Miller Cory Emmerton Mikael Samuelsson

Defensemen

Niklas Kronwall Jonathan Ericsson
Danny DeKeyser Jakub Kindl
Brendan Smith Kyle Quincey

Goaltenders

Jimmy Howard (starting)
Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar

Injuries: Jordin Tootoo (shoulder), Jonas Gustavsson (groin)

LTIR: Darren Helm (body), Patrick Eaves (knee)

SABRES THE MATCH-UP (LAST SEASON) RED WINGS
21-21-6 (48 pts; 12th in East) Record 24-16-8 (56 pts; 7th in West)
2.46 (23rd in NHL) Goals Per Game 2.54 (20th in NHL)
2.90 (22nd) Goals Against Per Game 2.29 (5th)
14.1% (29th) Power Play % 18.4% (15th)
79.2% (26th) Penalty Kill % 81.7% (12th)
Thomas Vanek (20 goals) Goal Leader Pavel Datsyuk (15 goals)
Thomas Vanek (41 points) Points Leader Pavel Datsyuk (49 points)

Opponent Outlook

Player to Fear: John Scott…hahahahahahaha just kidding. He sucks and the Wings won't engage him if he plays (he won't… and if he does… more hahas! Our 3rd and or 4th line will skate circles around him). The real player to fear is Thomas Vanek. He's has mad hockey skillz. He's worth about 2-3 times more than Kindl and a 3rd. If he had some better linemates, I bet he would be top 10 scoring without question.

X-Factor: The man between the pipes, Ryan Miller. His numbers against the Red Wings are not good at all (see below), but my goodness, when he's on… he's on. He hasn't been the same since he was run over by JJ's 2nd favorite player Milan Lucic, but if he finds his game, he can steal one… or two… or many.

Familiar Faces: Hi Ville Leino! I hope he feels nostalgic returning to the Joe and scratches himself from the Sabres' lineup to hang out in his Lounge. Also, Tyler always tells me that I look like Leino. I don't see it.

Thumbs Up (One Thing I Like About Buffalo): They're backup goaltender is Jhonas Enroth. Why do I like this? He's the only other professional athlete in the 4 majors sports that I know of without looking it up on the interweb that spells his name with a 'Jh' like Jhonny Peralta. So, moving forward, we should all expect Enroth to receive a 50 game suspension soon.

Thumbs Down (One Thing I Don't Like About Buffalo): Making fun of their stupid 3rd jersey is easy… so I'll make fun of their captaincy. Buffalo recently announced their captain… err… umm... captains. Yes, the Sabres have TWO captains. Vanek at home. Ott on the road. I don't like that. Ott will wear the 'C' tonight at the Joe. This is dumb. So, so, so dumb. It's like the old saying in football, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. If you have two captains, you have no captain. Find a leader, Buffalo. Stop the shenanigans.

Bullets of Knowledge

  • The Red Wings are 50-52-13-1 (W-L-T-OTL) all-time against the Buffalo Sabres.
  • The Sabres are one of five franchises in NHL history to have an above .500 PTS% record against the Wings. The others are the Flyers, Canadiens, Montreal Maroons and the original Ottawa Senators. Two of those teams are lucky they're defunct. The rest are going to enjoy years of losing to the Wings now that they're in the East.
  • Since the 2005-06 season, the Wings are 4-4-0 on opening night. They 4-2-0 at home, 0-1-0 on the road and 0-1-0 at neutral sites (Sweden).
  • Ryan Miller is 2-6-2 with 3.69 GAA and .891 SV% in 10 career games against Detroit.
  • Jimmy Howard is 3-0-0 with a 1.16 GAA and .958 SV% in 4 career games against the Sabres. Also, let's not overlook the next set of numbers… Howard's career vs the Flortheast: 15-2-0, 2.08 GAA .927 SV%, 2 SO. Welcome to the Eastern Conference!
Prediction: Detroit wins 4-1


Let's Go Red Wings.
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