Buffalo Sabres Get Ready for Crucial West Coast Road Trip

Michael GhofraniContributor IJanuary 16, 2010

Ok, technically Atlanta and New York aren't in the west coast but since they are part of the Sabres 7 game road trip, I might as well include them in this article.

The Sabres have begun this long road trip in the best possible way, win the opening game. It wasn't the most entertaining game, but a win is a win no matter how ugly/boring it is.

As usual, Miller was outstanding, the penalty kill was perfect and of course, it wouldn't be a typical Sabres game without a dismal powerplay effort (1-for-8). If the Sabres want to do well on this road trip they are going to have to make major improvements to the powerplay.

After tonight's game vs. the Islanders, the Sabres will go on to play 5 games in 8 nights against some very good opponents. Over this stretch the Sabres will play Phoenix, who has been great this year, Anaheim (all right I give, their isn't much to fear out of this team), Los Angeles, who have a very potent offense, San Jose, who have been great all year, and finally the Sabres will end their road trip in Vancouver with a tough task of containing NHL points leader Henrik Sedin.

In my opinion this is a very crucial road trip for many reasons. First of all, the fact that they will end up playing 5 games in 8 nights (or 6 games in 10 nights if you count the Islanders) means that the endurance of this team, along with their ability to continuously be sound defensively will be tested.

The Sabres will also be tested on their goaltending depth and knowing that the Olympics are almost here, expect Lindy Ruff to give him more nights off to ensure that Miller is well rested for the later part of the season.

So with that in mind, expect Lalime to get a couple of starts during this road trip.

Secondly, this road trip will give Darcy Regier a clearer image of what he needs to accomplish in the final month towards the trade deadline.

In other words, if the Sabres lose three out of the four West Coast games by one goal (i.e. 1-0 or 2-1) then Regier might consider the possibility of trading for a top six forward.

There are 14 possible points to be won during this road trip. In my opinion a good number for the Sabres would be 9 out of 14 points.

It’s not an easy task when you’re playing against good teams like LA, Phoenix and San Jose (even the Islanders have been good of late) but that's what seperates the good teams from the elite teams.