Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 1:42 PM ET
The Sabres took the day off from practice on Thursday, which gives us a chance to put last night’s loss to Toronto in the rearview mirror and take a look ahead at the intriguing mix of opponents who will visit Buffalo over the next 10 days as the Sabres continue their playoff push while on a season-long six-game homestand. This is a critical stretch for the Sabres, who will follow this six-game homestand by playing seven straight on the road.
|(AP Photo/Nick Wass)|
St. Louis Blues – Friday, Feb. 18: The Blues don’t come to Buffalo often, but when they have, they’ve had success, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 trips to Western New York. A playoff team two years ago, the Blues have taken a step back in terms of points, but they still boast some impressive young talent. David Backes, who leads the team in scoring, and defensemen Erik Johnson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, were both members of Team USA’s silver-medal winning squad at the 2010 Olympics. Backes and Johnson, along with goaltender Jaroslav Halak, make up a solid young core for the Blues.
Washington Capitals – Sunday, Feb. 20: Although they’ve had their share of scoring slumps this season, the Capitals have some of the league’s most explosive forwards. Alex Ovechkin is averaging a point per game, which would signify an excellent year for most players; for Ovechkin, though, it means he is behind his career average of nearly 106 points per season. Alexander Semin scored his fourth hat trick of the season Wednesday in Anaheim, making him and Drew Stafford the only players with four hat tricks this season. Rounding out the Capitals’ trio of elite forwards is Nicklas Backstrom, who registered 101 points last season.
Atlanta Thrashers – Wednesday, Feb. 23: This matchup should have a playoff feel to it with the Sabres and Thrashers currently locked in a battle for the Eastern Conference's eighth seed. As of today, both teams have 60 points, although Buffalo has played two fewer games. The teams split the first two meetings of the season, which both took place in Atlanta back in October. The Thrashers have struggled of late after going on a tear in November and December.
|(AP Photo/John Amis)|
Detroit Red Wings – Saturday, Feb. 26: The homestand ends with a big matchup against the Red Wings, who occupy their normal place near the top of the Western Conference standings. Detroit’s usual cast of characters – Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg – are once again leading the way. This is the fourth straight year that the Wings will have appeared in Buffalo after not coming here at all the previous two seasons. The matchup also pits Ryan Miller against his younger brother, Drew, a forward for the Wings.