Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate: Toronto Maple Leafs

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After last nights tough to swallow loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves sitting in 9th place once again, looking up at the Washington Capitals, a team that is not going to go away easily.  good news for the Buffalo Sabres, their next four points could come easily.

With four games remaining on the schedule; the next two are against our Northern neighbors, the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Despite an exciting start to their season, any team that relies on Tim Connolly to be a scoring presence is going to end up not in the regular season.

Looking to put their first regulation loss in ten games behind them quickly, the team knows that the formula for the rest of the season is simple, win.  With Boston now eight points up on the Sabres and clinched a playoff spot, the Sabres hopes of winning the division have pretty much dwindled.  Ok, so the team may not have had much hope, but I was holding on to the possibility of anything happening with this group.

The Home and home with the Maple Leafs might just be what the doctor ordered for the Sabres, although the Leafs have not been the pushover that the Sabres once knew.  Through four games this year, the Sabres have been golden at home, but cannot win in the Air Canada Centre, a place where they will need to win tonight to jump back into eight place . 

Despite allowing four goals, the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the hottest teams in hockey, and they received the assist of some officiating last night to edge by the Sabres – despite needing the points the Penguins did not blow the Sabres out, a small thing to take from the game for a team that will need some momentum heading into tonight’s games.  The Sabres were not able to take advantage of the tired Penguins late in the game, and will be the tired team late in the game tonight.  Energy, dig deep, and desperation have to be on tap once again.

It will be a busy night not only for the Sabres, but for fans watching the out of town scoreboard.  A busy night of NHL action with several games having playoff implications.  The two biggest games the Sabres need to worry about are the Jets vs Lightning, and the Sens vs. Flyers.  A Flyers victory keeps the Sens within easy striking distance.  While the Jets can hold on to hope if they win, winning out for the Jets means 88 points, so they are “realistically” in it until the Caps or the Sabres win two games.  The Islanders play Boston, but I think at this point the Bruins hold on the division is safe.

Good news for Buffalo heading into tonight, the Leafs are on a franchise high 11 game home losing streak, their latest defeat coming in a 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Flyers.

Special teams are going to be important for the Buffalo Sabres, while they were not great last night in man down or advantage situations, The Sabres have gone 10-for-50 on the power play (20%) and 36-for-40 on the penalty kill (90%) in their last 17 games, compiling an 11-3-3 record in those games.

If Lindy is looking to rest Ryan Miller prior to the playoffs, he just might do it tonight, Jhonas Enroth is 1-0 lifetime against the Leafs (his only game against them coming in 2010).  Ryan Miller just might be playing the final four games of the year though.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres

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