Feb 1, 2012, 7:50 AM EDT
The Buffalo Sabres have done something they haven’t done since November by winning consecutive games. They head into tonight’s game against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) looking to keep the good mojo going but they’ll have to do it against a Rangers team upset about losing to New Jersey last night and without a key member of their offense.
Thomas Vanek left last night’s win against Montreal with an upper body injury and will be out at least for a week. Luckily for Buffalo disappointing forward Ville Leino stepped up big last night and they’ll be hoping that’s a sign he’s snapped out of his season-long funk. Vanek being one of the Sabres’ top two scorers (Jason Pominville the other) makes his injury a potentially devastating one as the rest of Buffalo’s offense has been spotty.
With Vanek out, the focus shifts to goalie Ryan Miller to be a lot better than he has been. Miller’s disappointing season has contributed to the Sabres’ struggles this season, but without Vanek around to help bail out the defense with his goals, Miller is going to have to get tough and play huge.
As for the Rangers, life on top of the Eastern Conference would seem to be easy. Marian Gaborik is scoring goals in bunches, Henrik Lundqvist is playing as well as he ever has, and their defense would dive in front of a bullet to stop a scoring chance. Although they’re coming off a tough loss to New Jersey last night, that came in a game they thought they played pretty well.
Expect to see more of the same from the Rangers as they hope to spoil the Sabres’ recent era of good feelings as they hope to get into the mix for the playoffs.
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