The Oilers fresh off their most complete road game of the season, even though they lost, head in to Buffalo tonight with a new goalie and a chance that they might get one of their stars back.
Ales Hemsky is a game-time decision, and if he is ready to go it would seem obvious that Ryan O’Marra would take a seat. In his six minutes last night I thought O’Marra was okay. He had two hits, won his only faceoff, but he was -1. His foot speed still needs to improve for him to get a long look, but he looks like a much better player than the previous few years.
The Oilers are 2-0-1 in their last three visits to Buffalo. They lost in OT in 2007, and won 4-0 and 3-0 in 2001 and 2002. Their overall record is 13-10-7-1 in Buffalo, and you would think they might have a bit of revenge on their mind after the Sabres destroyed them 10 to 2 at Rexall Place on January 27th.
It’s too bad the Sabres still don’t play in the Auditorium. That small rink was great. I loved the pitch yellow creases, the smaller surface and the horn they played after goals was awesome.
But the best part about the old rink was Rick Jeanneret, their play-by-play guy. Jeanneret is one of the more entertaining PBP guys in the league. He is revered by Sabres fans, and with calls like this you can understand why. The MAY DAY, MAY DAY clip is one of my all-time favourites.
TSN did a top ten Jeanneret calls, and while the film work is grainy, these calls are great.
I’ve had Jeanneret on my show a couple of times and he is a character. He brings energy, creativity and excitement to the game. One of my other favourites is Mike Lange.
Some of his calls don’t make much sense, but they crack me up. “He doesn’t know whether to cry or wind his watch,” WTF? Or: "Get that dog off my lawn mower," … “Get in the fast lane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll.”
The Sabres are 9-4-1, but have they’ve lost two straight, and haven’t played since Saturday so they should be hungry. The Oilers will have to come out with lots of energy or hope Khabibulin holds down the fort in the opening ten minutes.
The Sabres lead the league in shots on goal, 34.9 per game, so it is doubtful the Oilers will out shoot their opponents for a second straight game. The Oilers have been getting better and getting shots through, Penner goal last night was a good example, and the Sabres are middle of the pack allowing 30.1 shots per game.
Right now only Atlanta, Anaheim and Florida are giving up more shots than the Oilers’ 33.9, so you’d expect the Khabibulin to be busy again tonight.
The Oilers have played two pretty solid road games so far on this trip, and if they get Hemsky back tonight, that should only help their cause.
Like Brownlee pointed out yesterday, I don’t understand what Gilbert Brule needs to do to get more icetime, but Quinn needs to use him more. Let’s hope that late goal yesterday will get Brule more minutes.