Jets wary of Sabres' ineptness on road
The Buffalo Sabres aren't merely failing to live up to expectations, they've already set a team record for futility.
The Sabres will try to snap the longest road losing streak in franchise history when they visit the sputtering Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Buffalo (19-22-5) entered 2011-12 expecting to be a force in the Eastern Conference, with a third consecutive playoff appearance considered a formality. Instead, the Sabres are 11th in the East, eight points behind Florida for the eighth and final playoff position. They're fourth in the Northeast Division, 16 points behind first-place Boston.
The Sabres' struggles have even reached historic proportions as they've set a team record with a 10-game road losing streak. They had an 11-game winless drought on the road Oct. 13-Nov. 30, 2002, but that stretch included two ties.
Winnipeg (21-20-5) is also trying to shake out of a funk, having lost six of eight.
The Jets appeared to be snapping out of it with a 2-0 win at Ottawa on Monday, but followed that up the following night with a 5-1 defeat at New Jersey that left Jets head coach Claude Noel virtually speechless.
"I don't care to share with you guys what I'm thinking. Is that not clear to you guys?" he said to the media.
The Jets could use some production from left wing Evander Kane, who has failed to score in his last nine games, though his 18 goals still lead the team and are one shy of his career high set last season.
Kane has just one goal in nine career games against the Sabres and that tally came more than two years ago on Jan. 1, 2010.
Buffalo has been outscored 42-14 during the current road skid, failing to score more than two goals in each of its last nine games away from home and getting shut out twice.
The Sabres avoided being blanked for a second consecutive game Wednesday, but still lost 6-2 at Chicago to fall to 0-3-0 on its season-high seven-game trip that will span the all-star break.
"We're not dealing well with adversity," Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Until we learn to win again, you won't win on the road."
Ryan Miller is expected back in net after resting in favour of Jhonas Enroth, who made 29 saves in Wednesday's loss.
Miller, the 2009-10 Vezina Trophy winner, is 0-7-0 with a 3.98 goals-against average in his last eight road starts — all losses. He was pulled in two of those outings, including Monday's 5-0 loss at Detroit after giving up all five goals on 14 shots in the opening 24:32.
Miller, though, is 6-0-1 with a 2.74 GAA in his last eight meetings with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg franchise. He got a great deal of help to become the goaltender of record on Nov. 8, making 26 saves before Thomas Vanek scored with 24.5 seconds left in overtime to cinch a 6-5 home win over the Jets.
The Sabres weren't as fortunate in the Jan. 7 rematch, falling 2-1 in overtime after Johnny Oduya beat Enroth less than a minute into the extra session.
Jason Pominville continues to be one of the few bright spots for the Sabres, scoring twice Wednesday to give him five goals in his last eight games.
Pominville also has four goals and four assists in his last five games against the Thrashers/Jets, including one goal and three assists in the two meetings this season.