New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7:30 PM at First Niagara Center
Where To Watch: NBC Sports Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 7:15 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Wednesday night in Buffalo the Rangers (31-12-5, 67 pts) play the second game of a back-to-back to start the post All Star break portion of their schedule when they skate against the Sabres (21-24-5, 47 pts). The Rangers returned from the break and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Devils in New Jersey Tuesday night in a game decided by the shootout. New York let three one-goal leads slip away, including the last one with under a minute to play when a freak bounce off the boards led to the Devils tying goal. Entering play Wednesday the Rangers, who are 3-1-1 in their last five games, hold a one-point lead over Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and will have three days off before their next game on Super Bowl Sunday at The Garden against the Flyers. Henrik Lundqvist, who backed up Martin Biron Tuesday at The Rock, is expected to start in goal Wednesday for the Rangers, while Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was leaning towards starting Ryan Miller for a fifth straight game this evening. The Sabres, however, will be without their leading goal scorer, Thomas Vanek. Ruff stated at the morning skate that Vanek suffered an unidsclosed injury in Buffalo's 3-1 road victory over the Canadiens Tuesday night and that he would be unable to play against the Rangers. Ruff also stated that one other unnamed player may not be able to play because he is ill, and that Zach Kassien would be recalled from the minors to dress tonight. The Sabres enter play having won two games in a row for only the fourth time this season.
This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season. The Rangers skated to a 4-1 victory up in Buffalo on December 10th, fueled, in part, by a two-goal outing by Carl Hagelin. The Blueshirts' special teams shined in that contest, too, as the team recorded a pair of shorthanded goals (Hagelin and Ryan Callahan) and one power play goal (Marian Gaborik). Six of the last nine meetings between the Rangers and Sabres have been decided by one goal.
"(The Sabres) are a good team, and they're quick. They are not the biggest team, but they are small and fast, and have a good power play that moves the puck well. So we have to be very sharp out there on the ice, and we have to play down below their hashmarks as much as we can and wear them down because they played last night, too. They are in the same situation as us. The more we play in their end, I think the more beneficial that is to us."--John Mitchell
By The Numbers
Carl Hagelin, who recorded a pair of assists in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Devils, now has notched 11 points in his last 15 games, with four goals and seven assists in that span. He has four multiple-point games now on the season, including his two-goal outing vs. the Sabres back on December 10th.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller earned his 234th career win with Buffalo last night, tying Dominik Hasek for the all-time franchise record. The 31 year-old Miller is 234-141-44 in 430 career games, all with the Sabres. Against the Rangers he is 12-5-2 all-time with a 2.37 goals against average and .923 save percentage.
Share your predictions below on Wednesday's Rangers-Sabres game.