How do you move up in the standings? Winning is probably the simplest answer to that question, but considering the Sabres went on a tear for their West Coast trip, and game home no worse for the wear. What they need to do is start beating the teams in front of them.
They can start that trend tonight; after a lackluster performance against the Philadelphia Flyers. The first hurdle the Buffalo Sabres have before they can think of playoffs is overtaking tonights opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that sits one place above Buffalo. With a seven point lead on the Buffalo Sabres, the Carolina Hurricanes are closer to making the playoffs then worrying about Buffalo overtaking them.
The ‘Canes have been playing like a team possessed lately, and are gunning for the playoffs. The Atlanta Thrashers are feeling the heat – the ‘Canes are only three points back behind the Thrashers. Hopefully this means that both teams will be playing with some playoff intensity, as opposed to the Sabres dropping out of the race after the first ten minutes.
Some good news for the Buffalo Sabres, Thomas Vanek will remain in the lineup, battling through whatever injury is ailing him. I cannot confirm but I do recall seeing his hand being taped up during the Flyers game. Personally, when Thomas Vanek plays through an injury he is absent from the score sheet, so whatever intangibles he brings must be worth it for Lindy Ruff to keep him in the lineup.
Luke Adam will return to the lineup after battling the flu. After seeing some impressive play out of him when he was first called up, his play has tapered a bit, I would be interested in seeing more out of the first year Sabre.
The Buffalo Sabres have not been on a run of longer than two games this year. If they are going to consider the playoffs as an option, they need to start stringing together more victories together, win two lose one is not going to get you into the playoffs. For the rest of January the Sabres are playing a few teams that will give them a reprieve, the New York Islanders are played twice, as well as the Ottawa Senators. Both teams are must wins for the Sabres. They can also help themselves out by beating the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens this month, teams that are ahead of them in the division, and standing in the way of the playoffs.