On Sunday, the Buffalo Sabres were able to take advantage of a matinee affair against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tonight they face off against the New York Islanders, who played yesterday in a matinee, and then traveled to the Nickel City. While the Buffalo squad enters tonight’s contest in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, they sit only one point behind Montreal, New York [Islanders], and Tampa Bay. A regulation win tonight would hurdle the Blue and Gold into 11th, so long as they got help from the out of town scoreboard.
While the Sabres and Islanders play, Montreal and Tampa are also active, playing Dallas and Anaheim respectively. A win in regulation coupled with a good night by the Western Conference could have the Sabres looking at a less ominous climb back into playoff contention. There is still hope for this Sabres squad despite that latest skid, there room for error however is marginalized with only 23 games remaining. and with games in hand on only 3 teams above them.
First Niagara Center has been friendly to the Islanders, as tonight will have them looking for their fourth straight win in Buffalo’s home barn. While visiting only twice a year, the Islanders are on a three game winning streak at FNC, so the Buffalo team wants to avoid making that a fourth loss in a row. So far the Islanders lead this years season series 2-1.
The Islanders may come in tired, having traveled after losing 6-0 to Ottawa in a Monday Matinee with the Senators, they could also be seeking a little retribution for that drumming as well. The responses from them after being throttled by the Senators are eerily similar to comments we have heard in the Sabres locker room after several losses this year. Lack of intensity, no battle, lack of emotion. These should be posted in the Sabres locker room to allow the Blue and Gold lineup to capitalize on making Monday a repeat affair for the Islanders.
The Sabres could face Nabokov, who will return after battling flu-like symptoms. Buffalo’s offense will need to continue to roll, and it might be helped by the resurgence of Derek Roy, who may have found the scoring touch, netting five points in his last three games.
Its a 7PM tilt tonight on MSG. I’ll be able to catch a Sabres game on the road for the first time ever, as I traveled into the New York television market this week, so I won’t miss any Sabres hockey on this business trip!
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