Two points seperate the Buffalo Sabres from the Winnipeg Jets and the Washington Capitals in the race for the eighth playoff spot. Tonights opponent the Ottawa Senators sits ten points ontop of the Buffalo Sabres for the seventh spot.
A win tonight could keep the Buffalo Sabres in the talks for the playoffs, and it makes the seventh spot a reality as well, so long as the Sabres can do it in regulation, and not let the Sens pick up points.
Both teams skate into tonights contest refreshed, having Friday night off from any activity. This will be the final meeting of the season between the cross border rivals, and the Sabres need a victory to split the season with the Sens.
If the Buffalo Sabres want to continue talking about playoffs and not start thinking about the draft just yet, they need to turn in more efforts with a complete 60 minutes, as third period lapses have forced them to drop two of their last three games. While losing games is bad for business this time of the year, when you are playing teams your chasing, turning games into three point affairs are only a good idea if your trailing all game and you hold on for that loser point.
Streaky scoring has been the bane of the team this year. While last year they had the help of a surging Jhonas Enroth to help them into the playoff push, the lack of all around scoring this year and the droughts to Drew Stafford, Derek Roy, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek have earned this team few points, forcing their goaltending tandem to bail them out more often than not. Expect Ryan Miller to be back in the net tonight, and in most nights as the season draws to a close. Don’t blame Jhonas for the loss against the Bruins. The game was tied until the Bruins threw open the third period and put the seal on the victory.
The Sens have been riding their offensive prowess as of late, and are looking to hold on for the rest of the season and net a playoff spot. Trailing Boston by just three points, a strong end to their season could see them jump in the standings and go from the bottom to the top with a matter of seconds. It is a tall order for the Sens, who have played three more games than the Bruins; but the gap between the Sens and third is not much greater than the Sabres surge for eighth – so its possibble.