By Mike Harrington
CALGARY, Alberta -- Good morning from the Candian Rockies, where the Sabres and Flames will meet tonight in the Saddledome for the first time since Dec. 27, 2010. The game is a 9 p.m. start Eastern time, so that means your "morning skate" reports will be later than normal.
The Flames take the ice at 10:30 local time (12:30 in Buffalo), while the Sabres go at 11:30 a.m. here and 1:30 p.m. back home. So keep it here and on Twitter (@BNHarrington) for the latest but don't forget you'll have to wait a little while longer to find out if tonight will be Nathan Lieuwen's first NHL start in goal.
This is Buffalo's first visit here since the devastating floods last June that ruined the Saddledome's service level and put water in the first 10 rows of the seating bowl. The building's core had to be gutted and replaced entirely but it was miraculously ready to go for the preseason. I had a good chat about it with Nashville broadcaster Terry Crisp, the coach of the '89 Stanley Cup champion Flames, when he was in Buffalo last week and it will be interesting to check out the building.
As for the game, the Sabres have lost six straight overall, scoring just five goals in the process nd ll of them by either Drew Stafford or Tyler Ennis. The last time they lost seven straight in regulation was in 2003 and keep this in mind: The Sabres have NEVER lost eight straight in regulation.
The Sabres are 7-21-3 on the road as they start a five-game, 10-day trip. Their seven wins are five fewer than any NHL team and their 17 road points are 10 fewer than anyone else (Florida is 12-20-3 for 27).
The Flames are tied for 26th overall with the New York Islanders with 61 points and it will be interesting to see how that battle impacts the Sabres' draft, with Buffalo potentially getting the Islanders' No. 1 pick this year. Calgary forward Matt Stajan, who scored the overtime winner in December when the Flames won in First Niagara Center, is expected to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last two weeks following the death of his newborn son.
The Sabres are seeking their first win in Calgary since Oct. 18, 2003 and will look to avoid their first ever four-game losing streak in Calgary/Atlanta. Ennis has 13 points (6-7) in his last 15 games and Stafford has 16 points (9-7) in his last 18.
Elsewhere, plenty of hardware has been earned by the Sabres' second-round draft picks the last two years.
---Michigan's J.T. Compher, selected last June with the pick acquired from Carolina for Andrej Sekera, has been named Big 10 Freshman of the Year. Compher has 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) for the season, and his 20 points in Big 10 play were fourth overall in the league and seven more than any other freshman.
---Williamsville native Justin Bailey, also taken last June, has been named MVP of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL after finishing second on the team in points with 43 in 54 games. Bailey, who had 25 goals and 18 assists, had his season cut short by an upper-body injury and missed 14 games.
Kitchener finished a distant last in its division at 22-41-5. Its division included three 100-point clubs, including Connor McDavid-led Erie and London, whose blueline includes Sabres first-round choice Nikita Zadorov.
---Wisconsin defenseman Jake McCabe, Buffalo's second-rounder in 2012, has been named to the All-Big 10 first team. An assistant captain for the Badgers, McCabe is second among Big 10 blueliners with 23 points in 33 games (seven goals, 16 assists).
taggedCalgary Flames | Justin Bailey | NHL Entry Draft | Nikita Zadorov | Sabres game day