Thursday, October 23, 2008

Game 7: Sabres/Wild Preview

The Sabres faceoff with the Wild tonight at the Xcel Center in St. Paul. The Sabres will be missing captain Craig Rivet who will be out of the lineup for at least two weeks with minor knee surgery. This means that seventh defenseman Nathan Paetsch will be in the lineup to replace Rivet. Paestch has been a streaky player in his time in Buffalo. His rookie season in 2006 was his standout season with the Sabres. He played with an intensity that he lacked in the 2007 season. According to Vogl at Sabres Edge, the lines for defensemen should look some like this:


These lines have the resurrection of the Tallinder/Lydman pairing that was bipolar much of last season. Tallinder's play this season has been short of inspiring. Tallinder seems to be play more cautious than he has in the past few years most likely due to a fear of getting injured. The play of this pairing has to be the best it can for this game because of the trap that Jacques Lemaire likes to play.

The Wild are having their fair share of issues that just may distract them heading into this game. The issues surrounding Marion Gaborik have reached critical status with the Wild starting to shop him around instead of dealing with his contract that expires at the end of the season. Gaborik is looking for a long-term contract, somewhere in the seven to eight year range around $50 million while the Wild do not really want to pony up that kind of deal for so long. Gaborik has been an oft injured player. In his eight years in Minnesota, he has never played a full 82 game season and has had three seasons with less than 70 games. Currently, Gaborik is out with a lower body injury. On the other hand, Gaborik is a very good goal scorer when he is healthy, putting up 207 goals in 487 career games, including 42 goals in 77 games last season. Does Gaborik deserve the money that he asking for, probably not. But there are teams out there with the cap space that do need him that may give out that type of contract. The Sabres are not one of those teams.

Game time is 8 pm on MSG. Here are the stats


Stat Leaders
Goals - Vanek (7)
Assists - Pominville, Numminen, Afinogenov (4)
Points - Vanek (9)
Plus/Minus - Vanek, Spacek (+3)
Penalty Minutes - Kaleta (32)
Shots - Vanek (34)

Special Teams
Power Play - 24.3% (4th in League)
Penalty Kill - 96.7% (3rd in League)

Miller: 4-0, 1.45 GAA, .945 SV%
Lalime: 1-0-1, 1.44 GAA, .951 SV%


Stat Leaders
Goals - Miettinen (5)
Assists - Koivu (8)
Points - Koivu (9)
Plus/Minus - Koivu (+4)
Penalty Minutes - Boogaard (9)
Shots - Koivu, Miettinen (12)

Special Teams
Power Play - 28.6% (3rd in League)
Penalty Kill - 100.0% (Tied for 1st in League)

Backstrom: 4-0, 1.71 GAA, .942 SV%

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