Buffalo Sabers (18-17-4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (13-21-7)
RBC Center, 7 p.m.
I said earlier that you have to take risks to be a successful franchise and head coach Kirk Muller is doing that tonight by putting Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen on the first line with Eric Staal. Why is this risky you ask? Because these three are our best offensive players currently in the lineup and if they get shut down, there isn't much behind them and it's going to hurt the team's offense a lot. However, this line has three of Carolina's leaders in scoring chance percentage and present a threat whenever they are on the ice, something the team has lacked all season. Jokinen & Ruutu's line with Jeff Skinner was the closest thing to a big offensive threat we had all season and I guess Muller is tired of these wing experiments with Eric Staal and wants to put him with two proven goal-scoreres instead. Ruutu and Jokinen are the most proven wingers we have right now and have worked with Staal in the past, so this works.
If you remember Jokinen's 30 goal season, he was attached at the hip to Eric Staal for most of the year so maybe tonight is the night where he finally snaps his goal drought. We just need to hope that this line produces because after them there isn't much. Our second line tonight will probably be our usual third line of Bowman-Sutter-LaRose and while they are a solid unit, none of them are proven top-six commodities so I'm going into tonight with a lot of skepticism.The Sabers defense is banged up right now so that may have influenced Muller to load up the top line.
Lines & more after the jump