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game preview

Senators open season by hosting Sabres

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

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Senators open season by hosting Sabres
Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators

SABRES (0-0-0) at SENATORS (0-0-0)

TV -- RIS, MSG-B (HD), SNET-E

Season series -- It's the first meeting of the season between the two Northeast Division rivals, Ottawa has dominated the Sabres during the past couple of years; the Senators won the first five meetings last season before Buffalo's 5-2 victory at Ottawa on April 10, the last Saturday of the season.

Big story -- It's opening night for a pair of Northeast Division teams that don't like each other and are coming off first-round playoff losses. The Sabres enter the game trying to repeat last season's division title, while the Senators hope to build on an 11-point improvement that put them back into the playoffs after they missed the postseason in 2008-09.

Team Scope:

Sabres -- Just as they were last season, the Sabres will be built around Ryan Miller, who won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender in 2009-10 after capturing MVP honors at the Winter Olympics. The Sabres lost two of their top defensemen, Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman, to free agency; however, there's no reason Calder Trophy winner Tyler Myers shouldn't be even better than he was in his rookie season. Up front, Drew Stafford came into camp in the best shape of his career and had an excellent camp; the Sabres need him to produce along with Tim Connolly, Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek.

Senators -- The big question for the Senators is who will grab the No. 1 goaltending job. Neither Brian Elliott (3.24 GAA in preseason) nor Pascal Leclaire (4.43) was outstanding in camp, and coach Cory Clouston wasn't tipping his hand about who will be the starter.

"Obviously, we both want to play as much as we can," Leclaire said, "and we'll see what direction Cory and the coaching staff decide decides to go."

Who's hot -- Buffalo's Derek Roy tied for the NHL lead in preseason scoring with 10 points, including 7 assists, in five games. Left wing Drew Stafford was next with 9 points. Miller was 3-1-0 with a 1.59 goals-against average. … Spezza had 4 goals and 8 points for the Senators in just four games, while defenseman Chris Campoli was 2-6-8 in five games.

Injury report -- The Sabres expect to have everyone healthy. … Ottawa could be without first-line center Jason Spezza, who's battling a groin injury. Coach Cory Clouston said Thursday that Spezza will be a game-time decision. The Senators are also without defenseman Filip Kuba, who says he's at least three weeks from returning from a broken leg suffered on the first day of training camp.

Stat pack -- Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will be facing the Sabres for the 77th time in the regular season. Through 76 games, he has 38 goals and 40 assists for 78 points, including 5 goals and 2 assists in five games last season.

Puck drop -- Both teams have eyes on the Northeast Division title, so this is a chance for each to get the drop on the other. The Senators can expect a packed house at Scotiabank Place to welcome them for the new season, but they can't afford he kind of goaltending they got from either potential starter during the preseason -- especially not when facing the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.

2010-2011 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '11OTT 4 at BUF 6N. Gerbe
Feb 25 '11OTT 2 at BUF 4J. Hecht
Jan 25 '11BUF 3 at OTT 2 - OTS. Morrisonn
Dec 04 '10BUF 1 at OTT 0 - SOT. Vanek
Oct 22 '10OTT 4 at BUF 2D. Alfredsson
Oct 08 '10BUF 2 at OTT 1D. Roy
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
D. Roy1202+1211
T. Ennis1022+1000
S. Morrisonn1011+0000
T. Myers1011+0000
C. Rivet1000+1200
D. Stafford1000+1200
A. Sekera1000+1000
R. Niedermayer1000+0000
M. Grier1000+0200
J. Hecht1000+0000
P. Gaustad1000+0000
C. McCormick1000+0000
P. Kaleta1000+0000
T. Connolly1000-1000
J. Leopold1000-1200
S. Montador1000-1200
J. Pominville1000-1000
T. Vanek1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
R. Miller11-0-01261.00.962
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
C. Kelly1101+1000
J. Ruutu1011+1000
C. Neil1011+0200
S. Gonchar1000+1000
C. Campoli1000+1200
A. Kovalev1000+0000
D. Alfredsson1000+0000
M. Fisher1000+0200
M. Carkner1000+0000
M. Michalek1000+0200
P. Regin1000+0000
R. Shannon1000+0000
B. Lee1000+0200
N. Foligno1000+0000
C. Phillips1000-1000
Z. Smith1000-1000
J. Winchester1000-1000
E. Karlsson1000-1000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
P. Leclaire10-1-02362.03.944