San Jose Sharks (37-7-8) at Buffalo Sabres (28-21-6)
4:30 PM PST
Apologies for the shorter and considerably less snarky gameday post today but I've got a bunch of crap to take care of in addition to (ugh) waiting in line at the DMV today.
Is a 1-0-2 road trip considered a slump -- or is it just a slump when you're considered a top team in the league? If we extend it back, the record actually gets a little uglier (factor in the regulation loss to Chicago), but the team's still gathering points, and that's not really a bad thing.
Still, the Sharks haven't quite played like themselves in a while other than spurts here and there. The Pavelski line has been consistent while everyone else has had their ups and downs. The Boston game was the exception, as everyone chipped in their part there. Otherwise, things haven't operated on a consistent level for a while. If this was a stats homework problem, the data points would not produce a steady slope.
Everyone's been pretty tightlipped about the flu bug running through the team but whenever one of these things goes through a roster, they usually play sluggish for about a two week period. Doesn't matter which team it is or what year, every time this happens you see it run through every guy and you just hope that they ride it out without too much damage done to the standings. Is that why the Sharks have looked off during a handful of games recently or is it just the February doldrums?
A quick look at the Sabres lineup shows that several regulars are out (Thomas Vanek, thankfully; Henrik Tallinder; and Maxim Afinogenov, who is probably faking his groin injury so that mean ol' Lindy Ruff will stop yelling at him) and one of the non-regulars is in (Tim Connolly is actually healthy). After Derek Roy, the points totals drop considerably to Jason Pominville and Drew Stafford. It's easy to see why this isn't the same team that led the league in scoring a few years back.
As always, check over to David Pollak's blog for news about lineups later this afternoon, though I don't think things will change too much from the Pittsburgh roster. Word is that JR will be back next week, hopefully for the big BoC game against LA.
Prediction: Sharks 3, Sabres 2. Goals by Boyle, Setoguchi, and Pavelski.