Saturday, December 3, 2011

Preds to host Sabres in first of nine home games this month

The Nashville Predators will host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena after playing each of their past five games on the road.

Nashville is coming off of a thrilling 6-5 victory over the high-powered Vancouver Canucks. In that game, the Predators had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before finding themselves on the wrong end of a 5-3 score. The Predators went on to score three straight goals to get the 6-5 comeback victory.

"It's big. We can build on that just in our confidence. We're not always going to have the best game, but the fact that we showed resiliency and came back to win is going to be big in putting the next couple of games together," said Nashville forward Colin Wilson.

Buffalo is coming off of a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings last night. They sit in 7th place in the Eastern Conference with a 13-11-1 record and 27 points. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are tied for the team lead in points with 27.

"We're expecting a game very similar to Vancouver. They come hard and they have a lot of offense. The East is always very offensive and a quick game," Wilson said.

The Sabres have been struggling as of late, but help could soon be on the way. It's possible that Ryan Miller will be getting the start for the Sabres tonight, which would be his first start since taking that hit from Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins.

It looks like Anders Lindback will get the start in goal for the Predators tonight. Lindback played well in relief of Pekka Rinne in Vancouver, and has earned more starts down the road. Rinne has struggled as of late, so a few extra days off might do him a lot of good.

Nashville has nine home games in the month of December, which is the most of any month of the season. This month is one of the most critical months of the season, and the Predators have a big opportunity to put themselves in a good position.

"We haven't been as good as we want to be at home, so I think with this home stretch it's something that we're going to have to focus on. We've got to use our home ice to our advantage," Wilson said.

My player to watch for the Sabres is Thomas Vanek. He's one of the best offensive players in the NHL, and has been great so far this season. If he's able to get his game going early, the Predators could be in for a long night.

For Nashville, my player to watch is Chris Mueller. He will be making his season debut for the Predators tonight, and will be centering the fourth line. Mueller is a native of Buffalo so this game is special for him.