NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, October 4th
(All times Eastern)
Ottawa Senators (0-0-0) at Buffalo Sabres (0-1-0), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Ottawa Senators enter the 2013-14 season with lofty
expectations, and they'll do their best to get off to a good start when they
visit the Buffalo Sabres for Friday's clash at First Niagara Center.
The Senators made the playoffs for the second straight spring in 2013 before
losing in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games. However,
Paul MacLean's club was bounced out of the postseason with superstar
defenseman Erik Karlsson playing at less than 100 percent, and a return to
health for Ottawa's best player is key to the team's success in 2013-14.
Also on Ottawa's mind heading into this season is the loss of longtime captain
Daniel Alfredsson, who signed with new Atlantic Division rival Detroit this
summer. Alfredsson, who was the face of the franchise for well over a decade,
will face his former team four times in the regular season, but he won't make
his first trip to Ottawa until Dec. 1.
The Senators actually won't play any team on home ice until Oct. 17, as the
club is starting this season on a six-game road trip. One of Ottawa's
weaknesses last year was its inability to put forth consistent efforts on the
road, where the Sens went 10-11-3 during the lockout-shortened season of 2013.
Although "Alfie" is no longer a member of the Sens, the club did react quickly
by landing power forward Bobby Ryan from Anaheim on the same day their former
captain made the decision to head across the border into Michigan. Ryan is a
four-time 30-goal scorer at the ripe age of 26, and he'll likely offer more
offensive production than the 41-year-old Alfredsson could at this stage of
Ryan's offensive contributions aside, under MacLean the Senators still will be
expected to play a cohesive defensive style in front of the steady goaltending
of Craig Anderson. Anderson missed considerable time during the 2013 regular
season, but is ready for the season opener on Friday.
The Sabres, also members of the new-look Atlantic Division, opened their
season Wednesday night in Detroit and were handed a 2-1 regulation by the Red
Wings. Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk tallied 36 seconds apart in the
first period and Jimmy Howard turned away 19-of-20 shots to lift the Red Wings
to a win in their first game as a member of both the Atlantic Division and
It was the 12 time in the last 13 matchups that the Sabres lost at Joe Louis
Zemgus Girgensons scored his first career goal for Buffalo, which came up
short on all seven of its power-play opportunities. Girgensons, drafted 14th
overall in the 2012 draft, lit the lamp in the third period.
Ryan Miller was steady following the two early goals, stopping 32-of-34 shots
in the narrow defeat.
"We were right there all night," Miller said. "We got in a position to tie. I
think we were improving as the game went on."
The Sabres, who are rebuilding and not expected to make the postseason in
2013-14, lost forward Ville Leino to a cracked rib in the opener and he is out
indefinitely. Leino signed a six-year, $27 million with Buffalo in the summer
of 2011, but has battled injuries and inconsistency during his tenure with the
After visiting the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, the Sabres will return
home for a two-game stint in western New York.
Ottawa won three of four meetings against the Sabres last season, but the Sens
have dropped four of their last seven tilts in Buffalo.
10/04 10:46:42 ET