To live and die in Buffalo; Lightning at Sabres game preview [updated]

WHERE:  HSBC Center, Buffalo, New YOrk
WHEN:  7 PM EDT 
MEDIA:  Sun Sports (cable), 620 WDAE (radio)
OPPONENT COVERAGE:  Die by the Blade

The Lightning are limping into tonight's game against the Sabres, quite literally.  Steve Downie's hurting.  Kurtis Foster is hurting.  David Hale is hurting.  Ryan Malone is hurting.  Mattias Ohlund is hurting...  This is something common for any team this late in the season, but it feels like the Bolts are in worse shape than most.  

But with playoff hopes still out there, no matter how slight they are, expect some of the guys to tough-it-out and play tonight in a must-win contest.  

The Sabres played last night, suffering their ninth-straight loss to the Ottawa Senators.  4-2 Ottawa was the final.  It puts into question just who will be in the starting lineup for the Sabres tonight and how much of a break may they have caught here?  Tim Connolly and Patrick Kaleta are both out tonight for Buffalo and there is no word yet if Ryan Miller or Patrick Lalime will start in goal.  

The Sabres feature the #3 penalty kill unit in the league, helped along mightily by the antics of Ryan "Millercle" Miller in net.  Their power play, on the other hand, is an anemic 16.7% and ranked 24th in the league.  The Bolts, on the other hand, are ranked 8th in the league on the power play (19.3% conversion rate) and a much less impressive 80.9% on the penalty kill -- 21st int he NHL.

One thing to watch for tonight is the race for the Rocket Richard.  Steven Stamkos is tied for the league lead in goals scored with 45.  Indeed, Spicolli's chase for 50 goals in his sophomore season with the Bolts is reason enough to keep tuning in as the season winds down.

[Note by John Fontana, 03/27/10 12:16 PM EDT ] Vladmir Mihalik has been recalled from the Norfolk Admirals.  It's too early to know if he will indeed be in the lineup tonight or not.  He will wear #56 however. 

2010 NHL Entry Draft Prospect

Continuing our look at some of the top prospects for this year's entry draft (taken from The Scouting Report)

Brett Connolly (LW)

 

...Brett Connolly’s season has...been derailed by injury... Connolly’s hip has given him significant problems this season and has limited him to dressing in a mere 12 games for the Cougars this year. The timetable for his return is still unclear, but it’s certainly possible that the injury could keep him out of the Top 10 at the draft. Putting aside the injury, however, it’s clear that Connolly is one of the better goal scorers in this draft. While he doesn’t have a particularly dominating aspect of his game, he has an innate ability to drive the net and capitalize on his opportunities in tight. If Connolly can get back into the lineup in the next few weeks, there will be a lot of pressure on him to find his scoring touch immediately and alleviate any concerns that scouts may have about his injury.

Other Previews

Tampa Bay Lightning official team preview

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