The focal point for any player tonight playing for the Buffalo Sabres or Florida Panthers is the playoff race. The Florida Panthers are going to look to cement their position in the top eight, while the Sabres are trying to creep back in to the playoff picture.
What will be secondary to tonights game is the return of Florida Panther’s Forward Richard Zednik to Buffalo. The last time he was in Buffalo, he sped off the ice clutching his neck, as a freak accident cut the carotid artery and almost bled out on Buffalo ice. Thankfully for the great team of Sabres doctors as well as the proximity to the hospital and the arena, they were able to save his life. Tonight will mark his return. It will be in the back of the players mind, and I would think that the Sabres being a classy organization, would recognize him before the opening face off. His focus is on the playoffs, but the first time he goes into that corner, or skates back towards the bench from that end, a chill will have to run down his spine, knowing, just over a year ago it could have ended right there.
What’s hot for the Sabres tonight? Believe it or not Maxim Afinogenov. Since returning from his injury and benching, he has a point in all three games. This is not surprising as usually being sat down by the coach spurs him into a short streak. Two years ago it happened in the playoffs and he scored an important goal. Knowing Max the streak will end soon and we will get back to normal with the troubled winger. The Sabres are 2-3 in their last five games, and will need to start putting together some regulation wins if they are going to play hockey past April.
What is troubling going into tonights game is the fact that the Sabres offense has really struggled as of late, minus the two 5 goal games. Florida goalies Tomas Vokoun and Craig Anderson are ranked second and fourth in league save percentage. Hopefully the Sabres will be over their recent rash of flu like symptoms and will be able to play a solid 60 minute effort tonight