Health Issues

Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano insists injuries have contributed to his team's inconsistent play. Tim Connolly's return should alleviate some of the health concerns.

With Connolly set to return after a 13-game absence, the Sabres look to continue a February resurgence when they conclude their season series with the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Buffalo -172 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 64% of bets for this game have been placed on Buffalo -172 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Buffalo (25-21-8) has been criticized for breaking up what had been a Stanley Cup-contending lineup over the past two years, losing captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere to free agency last summer. Indeed, the Sabres, who are three points behind eighth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference, are struggling to become a factor in the playoff race.

After bottoming out by going 1-7-5 in a stretch last month that dropped it into 13th place in the standings, Buffalo has been able to bounce back with a 5-0-2 run. The Sabres have earned at least one point in all four of their games in February, going 2-0-2.

"Look how competitive we've been these last three weeks," Golisano said. "How can you argue with the results? I'm sure they'd like to block out that 10-game (winless) streak and have a chance to do it over again, but that's not reality. So on we go."

Golisano contends his team's injury problems have contributed to its losing 13 games by one goal, including eight shootout losses. Connolly, a playmaking center, will be on the ice Sunday after missing a month with a hip injury.

Diagnosed with bone spurs in his hip, Connolly will have to play with pain and will eventually require surgery. He has been in and out of the lineup all season, and has five goals in 29 points in 34 games.

Connolly has come off injured reserve, but winger Maxim Afinogenov (groin) and defenseman Teppo Numminen (heart surgery) remain there. Drew Stafford, who is out indefinitely after spraining his right ankle in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Bruins on Friday night, may soon join that list.

Stafford, who has 13 goals and a career-high 28 points, will likely miss a few weeks.

Buffalo will need all the offense it can get against a Florida team which has been finding the back of the net regularly in recent games. The Panthers, normally conservative on offense, have scored 24 goals en route to a 4-0-1 record in February.

"I think some people are finding the net, but also I think moving the puck out of our zone has helped," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "I think we have done a better job of going to the net."

Olli Jokinen and David Booth scored 14 seconds apart in the second period and Richard Zednik had two goals to lead Florida (26-26-5) to a 6-3 win over Boston on Saturday night.

It was the second time in four days the Panthers have scored six goals or more. They scored a season-high eight goals in a shutout win over Toronto on Tuesday night.

Zednik has been red-hot during Florida's surge, compiling six goals and nine points in his last four games. The veteran had two goals in the Panthers' only win over the Sabres this season, a 4-2 victory Nov. 2 at Buffalo.

Buffalo won its other two matchups with Florida, and is 6-2-0 in its last eight games versus the Panthers.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

More NHL Hockey coverage from theSpread.com

 - NHL Hockey news wire
 - NHL top stories
 - Current NHL injuries
 - NHL Hockey schedule
 - NHL Hockey standings
 - NHL goalie stats
 - NHL Hockey scoreboard
 - NHL Hockey odds
 - NHL public betting charts
 - Expert NHL Picks
 - Comments and discussion
 - Signup for theSpread.com daily newsletter
 - NHL Home

Advertisement

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Crosby focused on resuscitating Pens Riding a nine-game winning streak, Washington is the hottest team in hockey right now. But will the league’s third-leading scorer throw a wrench into the Caps’...
Thumbnail Western Conference titans clash shortly John Gibson is acclimating quite nicely to his new role as the Ducks’ workhorse in net. Still, can the 23-year-old cool off the Blues tonight?
Thumbnail Elite netminders lock horns in Montreal Two of the NHL’s most explosive offenses are preparing to collide in Quebec. With Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist on the scene, however, will stellar...
Thumbnail Note goalie wades into hostile territory So far, Jake Allen's first season as the Blues' undisputed No. 1 netminder has not gone according to plan. But can he reverse the...
Thumbnail Ovechkin targets another major milestone It’s always a treat to see Eastern Conference powerhouses Pittsburgh and Washington do battle. Tonight’s meeting in the nation’s capital, however, should have...
Advertisement

NHL Headlines

NHL Team Pages