Buffalo - October 14, 2014 - Who: Carolina Hurricanes
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
Know thine enemy: Heading into this year, the Hurricanes hadn’t improved on paper and were coming off a non-playoff finish in 2013-14. So you can only imagine where they sit after losing Jordan Staal to a broken leg in the preseason (on a hit from Josh Gorges, no less), Jeff Skinner to a concussion and now Eric Staal (upper-body) and Patrick Dwyer (lower-body).
The woefully undermanned Hurricanes are already coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders on Friday and Saturday and are now even further behind the eight-ball. Jiri Tlusty has been playing well for them so far, with three goals and an assist through the first two games, but losing Staal and Dwyer is a huge blow to a team that already needed a lot of help.
In net, both Anton Khudobin and Cam Ward got starts over the weekend and both were awful. Khudobin allowed four goals on 31 shots (.871 save percentage) while Ward allowed five on 26 shots (.808%). Everywhere something can go wrong, it’s going wrong for the Hurricanes. Maybe the home ice will be good for them.
About the Sabres: The Sabres, meanwhile, don’t even have the excuse of heavy injuries to fall back on when it comes to their hideous start. No, that’s just good old fashioned awfulness we’re seeing from the blue and gold to start this year.
Despite their inflated goals against averages and save percentages, both Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth have played relatively well and the final scores in the first three games would have been far worse if not for their efforts.
The offense has been pretty bad, though Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons do have a pair of goals through the first three games. Unfortunately, they are the only ones with goals through the first three games. Puck possession has been a few issue and the Sabres have often been left chasing the puck for minutes on end, especially when the score is close and they absolutely need the puck.
The part where I predict things: Honestly, this is a mess on both sides of the ledger. The Hurricanes are missing several huge pieces from the lineup and the Sabres are just bad. Neither team is great offensively and the Hurricanes lost one of their seven total goals in Staal (Tlusty has three of the remaining six).
Expect this to be a struggle going both ways, but this will come down to who can score first and gain the momentum. That’s an epic problem for the Sabres so far, not to mention the fact that they give up a metric ton of shots while registering very few.
Score: 3-1 Hurricanes
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