Last season looked bad, and the team was able to turn it around. This year the whole the Buffalo Sabres are in seems damn near Ben Hur epic-like. Not only do the Buffalo Sabres need to play lights out hockey the rest of the season, their destiny is not fated into their own hands, but requires a meltdown of one of the teams in front of them.
The Sabres continue their road trip, and what will most likely be a continuation of the longest road losing streak in franchise history tonight against the St. Louis Blues. The Blues come into tonight no easier an opponent than the New York Islanders on this road trip, and are in the middle of a playoff hunt in the Western Conference. Third in their division and fifth in their conference, St. Louis is not scoring goals to pad their success, as they only have two more goals on the year than the Buffalo Sabres so far. What is propelling them to success is their ability to shut teams down and win games 2-1 or 1-0.
With offensive woes commonplace in the Sabres locker room, Lindy Ruff wants his team to rely on a strong defensive game to pull out of this current funk they are in. (Has he seen the defensive effort lately?) Pitting two defensive teams together tonight at 8PM could be a recipe for disaster, as an extremely boring game could ensue.
Buffalo has not won on the road since December 3rd, and have been outscored 45-15 by their opponents in that 11 game stretch. Defense has been non-existent in that stretch, so I doubt Lindy Ruff will get any help from that in order to lift the team out of the basement of the league.
Sparking an offensive run and getting a stand up night from one of his goaltenders, a complete game by the entire roster is going to help this team look like an NHL franchise again, and not a preseason group of ragtags hoping to make an NHL roster.
An offensive spark is going to be difficult to get from the Sabres tonight as they face goalie Jaroslav Halak. 10-0-3 in his last 13 starts, he is riding a shutout streak of 148:28 (A bright spot on my wavering fantasy team that is doing about as good as the Buffalo Sabres). Halak’s backup could also get the nod, and that challenge is equally as daunting. Brian Elliot is the best in the West right now with a 1.68 goals against, and his 9-0-2 in his career against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres and Blues faced off last February, with the Sabres losing a rare contest late in last years epic run, falling to the Blues 3-0.
Thinks look very bleak for the Buffalo Sabres. Only four teams are worse in the East right now, and only via tie breakers or one point. Another loss could see them looking up at the entire Eastern Conference, and playing for the draft lottery with Anaheim, Columbus, and Edmonton of the Western Conference.