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Sabres @ Ducks Preview: Coming Back For More

"That was like an NHL team playing against a peewee team." — Buffalo head coach Ted Nolan on last week's Ducks-Sabres game.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

If you take the quality of the opposition into account, the Ducks are coming off their best game of the young season, a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. But if you watched the games or looked at the possession stats without paying attention to the other teams, you would be forgiven for thinking that their best game of the season came a week earlier against the Buffalo Sabres. The point is, the Ducks look good now and they're set to play a team that looks really bad. How bad?

  • They are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for last place in the league with only two points, both of which were earned in a shootout win over those 'Canes.
  • They are dead last in goal differential at -14.
  • Just during Buffalo power plays, their team goal differential is -1.
  • Per, their 37.43% Fenwick is four whole percentage points worse than the second-worst team (Calgary).
  • It's been 142 minutes of game time since they've scored a goal.

As is customary for this type of matchup, the head coach of the heavily favored team said he expects the bad team to play the best game of their season. For the sake of two points and another rout, hopefully his players believe him, regardless of whether or not we do.

Game Notes:

Patrick Maroon, Dany Heatley, Bryan Allen, and Kyle Palmieri are all still injured. Recently recalled John Gibson went 1-1 with a .902 SV% and 3.05 GAA in his brief stint with the Norfolk Admirals, and if the plan is to get his confidence back for NHL-quality hockey, there isn't a better team to start him against than the Sabres, of course that was the case in Buffalo last week too but Boudreau started Andersen anyway.

Patrick Kaleta is out with an injury for the Sabres. Rookie center Sam Reinhart was a healthy scratch in Buffalo's last game, but he has been centering the fourth line in practice since then. No word yet on whether Jhonas Enroth or Michal Neuvirth will start in goal.

Also, it's Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Which means Cam Fowler once wore a spiffy purple tie.

What Can We Learn From This Game:

If Gibson starts, his play will be the biggest story of the night from a Ducks perspective, win or lose. Nobody wants Frederik Andersen to have to play 60+ games this year, but if Gibson can't find his form, Bruce Boudreau is going to have to start thinking about it. I know that sounds like a panicky, too-early-in-the-season thing to say, but the reality is that Gibson hasn't played well since last season, and this team as currently constructed needs that to change if they are going to be successful.

Another focus of scrutiny will be Tyler Myers. If Bob Murray is watching him, then we should be too.

Fearless Prediction

Brian Hayward rags on Myers, who scores one fewer goal than Sami Vatanen.