Feb 23, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Thomas Vanek (26) on the bench during the game against the New York Islanders at the First Niagara Center. Islanders beat the Sabres 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate: New York Rangers

It doesn’t matter who the Buffalo Sabres are playing anymore – the only thing that matters is the two points at the end of the night.  Thomas Vanek told members of the media that the opponent doesn’t matter anymore, every game is important.

Those words hit my ears this morning as I was driving into work, and I thought – well that makes it easier on me, I can title every post game from here to the end of the season Buffao Sabres PreGame Skate: Two Points.

It really doesn’t matter what I write in the body of the article either – their game hasn’t changed on the ice since changing head coaches – it is not going to change anytime soon.  There will be no historic run for eighth place this year.

But if there was going to be a historic run – it would have to start tonight against the team that holds down that eighth place spot, the New York Rangers.  While their opponent tonight is holding down the eighth place spot – they are playing the best hockey they have been all year, and are starting to look like the New York Rangers should.  After dropping a Buffalo Sabres like four game losing streak, the Blue Shirts are now 5-1 in their last six games – and sit seven points better than Buffalo.

The Sabres on the other hand have zero chemistry, zero desperation, and zero energy in the tank.  They are still looking for their 10th in of the season – while the revolving door for roster spots continues.

Buffalo continues to play every game from behind, with no urgency in getting the games started.  That was very evident when they were outshot 12-4 by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Buffalo could get some help in the lineup in Ville Leino tonight, who is questionable for tonight’s game, but would be his first game of the year after suffering a hip injury in training camp.  If he can be inserted in the lineup and regain the the chemistry he had with rookie Mikhail Grigorenko during training camp – it might be a boost to the Buffalo Sabres first round draft pick.

Patrick Kaleta will miss the rematch against the New York Rangers – still serving his five game suspension for his shove of Brad Richards.  Richards has returned to the lineup – and has a goal since his injury.  Tonight will be his third game back since having to sit two.

Jordan Leopold will be back in the lineup tonight – forcing Adam Pardy back down to Rochester.  Leopold will have to step his play up, as Pardy has been more than a suitable replacement for the aging veteran in his absence.

Tyler Ennis is day to day after suffering an injury in a hit that went unsuspended by the National Hockey League.  A blow to an offense desperately looking for a spark.

Buffalo is now just one point ahead of the Florida Panthers for last place in the league.  Florida plays tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Despite having two more wins than the Panthers – the Buffalo Sabres could find themselves looking up at 29 other teams when the final horn sounds tonight.  Even the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Western Conference has more points than both Buffalo and Florida.


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Tags: Buffalo Sabres New York Rangers

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