It's easy to see that opposing teams don't respect the Sabres' pop-gun offense: They keep playing their backup goalies against Buffalo. It appears Tuukka Rask will start tonight for the Boston Bruins, who are holding out ace Tim Thomas for tomorrow night's showdown in Montreal. Rask, of course, stymied the Sabres and outplayed Ryan Miller last year in the playoffs but has hardly been a world-beater this year (2-6-1, 2.51, .928).
By my count, the Sabres are a stellar 9-3-2 against backups this season. Of course, that means they're 3-11-2 when the opponents play their No. 1 guy and that's pathetic. The Sabres' only wins over starters came Nov. 6 at Toronto (beating J.S. Giguere), Dec. 4 at Ottawa (Brian Elliott) and Dec. 9 over San Jose (Antti Niemi)
Add Rask to a long line of backups that have played against Buffalo this season. This will be the 15th time in 31 games the Sabres have seen the No. 2 guy (or in the case of Washington, the No. 3). Some were injury related and some are schedule-related but most are also let's-start-the-backup-against-the-weaker-team thinking.
In addition to Rask for Thomas tonight, the Sabres have also seen Los Angeles' Jonathan Bernier (instead of Jonathan Quick), Vancouver's Corey Schneider (Roberto Luongo), old friend Marty Biron of the Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), Dallas' Andrew Raycroft (Kari Lehtinen), Columbus' Mathieu Garon (Steve Mason), Washington's Braden Holtby (Michal Neuvirth), Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson (Giguere), Atlanta's Chris Mason twice (Ondrej Pavelec), Chicago's Corey Crawford (Marty Turco), Ottawa's Pascal Leclaire (Elliott), New Jersey's Johan Hedberg twice (Martin Brodeur), and Tampa's Mike Smith (Dan Ellis).
On paper, it should be a break to not have to try to beat Thomas, who is 14-2-3 and leads the league in GAA (1.51) and save percentage (.954). We'll see.
No changes from yesterday's practice lineup for Buffalo. Nathan Gerbe and Craig Rivet will be scratches with Rob Niedermayer, Drew Stafford and Tim Connolly all in the lineup.
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