On The Road Again for Canes

Buffalo Sabres v Carolina Hurricanes
Buffalo Sabres v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

After a hard-fought defeat against the Dallas Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes head on the road to face the Buffalo Sabres early this evening at 6 PM. This starts a quick 3-game road trip before returning home on Saturday to host the Winnipeg Jets. From Buffalo, the Canes will head to Minnesota and then to Columbus.

Three very winnable games away from Raleigh should help turn things around after last evening's defeat. The Canes played well and the goaltending was solid but the Dallas Stars have too much scoring power. Something management should take notice of as the trade deadline approaches.

The Sabres enter tonight on a 2-game win streak after defeating the Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. Buffalo's last contest against Columbus was Friday so they will be better rested than Carolina. The Canes not only played a late start last night but had to hop on a plane up to Buffalo in time for the slightly early start today. Not an ideal situation for Rod Brind'Amour's group.

After Pyotr Kochetkov put together a solid effort, it will surely be Spencer Martin in between the pipes tonight. Martin has faced top teams as a member of the Canes and come out unscathed.

The Sabres are currently sitting on the outside of the playoffs with 56 points. 11 points separate Buffalo from Tampa Bay, who holds the final Wild Card position. Additionally, tonight's opponent would have to climb above four other teams to get to the final playoff spot.

Former Canes forward, Jeff Skinner continues to be a mainstay in Buffalo's scoring with 18 goals this season. JJ Peterka leads the club with 19 goals but the points leader is Casey Mittelstadt, a restricted free agent this summer, with 31 assists and 44 points. Of course, Tage Thompson has been the biggest threat in recent years but injuries have caused a down year for him, totaling just 33 points.

Two physical players who are sneaky offensively are Alex Tuch and Dylan Cozens. On defense, Rasmus Dahlin has become a force on the man advantage. His 14 goals and 29 assists are good for second on the team in scoring. 16 of those points are on the power play. Former top draft choice, Owen Power continues to get comfortable and is a plus 3 on a fairly poor team. He has 18 points this season.

In goal, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has had a very strong season with the majority of the starts. His 2.48 GAA is impressive with an even more impressive .913 save percentage. Devon Levi and Eric Comrie have combined for 28 games and have had flashes of strong play but not enough to earn much more playing time.

Having played last night, the Canes must get off to a good start and grab hold of the lead. The legs will get heavier as the game goes on and that will likely force a dump-and-chase mentality. Loaded with more skill, the Canes should be able to hold on and control this game.