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Buffalo Sabres PreGame Skate: Montreal Canadiens

The Buffalo Sabres can make it two in a row tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, and three in a row against their Northeast Division foes. Earlier this week Buffalo blew a two goal lead in front of Jhonas Enroth and salvaged two points in extra time thanks to the overtime goal scored by Steve Ott.

It was Ott again who led the Buffalo Sabres – this time in a two goal comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He netted the eventual game winner again in extra time, this time the needed goal came in the sixth round of the shootout. It seems like the Buffalo Sabres pressure cooker of a season is finding an even keel, despite boiling over to the point of fire sale just one week ago.

Don’t be fooled by their recent better play – this team still has a long way to go before they will be taken seriously in a bid for the Stanley Cup. Then again, the Los Angeles Kings taught us last year that just getting in was worth it. Buffalo sits just four points back out of the final playoff spot, and with a win can hurtle even closer to the final spot, which is currently held by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The biggest hurdle for the Buffalo Sabres heading into tonight, at least in the standings, is the New York Rangers and Hurricanes, who are tied for the final spot and own a game in hand over the Buffalo Sabres in the playoff race.  With a victory tonight they can decrease that gap to just two points behind the Rangers and ‘Canes who are idle tonight, thus giving them two games in hand over the Sabres. Buffalo Sabres veteran and leading point man Thomas Vanek knows how hard it will be for the Sabres to pull together a run that will sit them comfortably in the playoff picture.

From Sabres.com:

“We don’t have to kid ourselves,” he said. “Four points doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a lot because teams are playing each other and gaining points in front of you. Most guys realize how hard it is to catch up. All we can worry about is [Saturday] to get another two points and just get lucky.”

Buffalo should be getting the services of Thomas Vanek back today, and we shall see if Nathan Gerbe gets inserted back into the lineup.  With just one of them coming back in a roster move is necessary, so either John Scott or Jochen Hecht will have to come out for Vanek to be inserted.  If Gerbe goes back in for the offensive spark, we will see both Jochen Hecht and John Scott in the press box.  Surprisingly, the news, rumors, and speculation about the Buffalo Sabres and trade deadline day is not at the peak it should be, with all the talk of a firesale around the league, and the number of scouts the Buffalo Sabres attention is drawing, there has only been one weak deal by the Sabres general manager Darcy Regier.  Either things are going to get hot and heavy in the final days of the 2013 open season for players, or the Buffalo Sabres are finding their asking prices for moveable commodities is a little high, and the new CBA has made it a buyer’s market.

Despite the success of the Montreal Canadiens this year and their resurgent presence in the Northeast Division – through three games so far this season the Sabres are 2-1, and look to make it 3-1 in the five game series tonight.  While Montreal is 7-1-2 in their last ten games, they have dropped their last two, both two teams that are occupying less than stellar spots in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres and the New York IslandersP.K. Subban drew the ire of his head coach for taking the overtime penalty that cost them the game against Buffalo, and then sat for most of the second period after a dumb too many men penalty against the New York Islanders.  Looks like the Canadiens are experiencing some minor growing pains as a young successful team. Game time tonight is 7PM and can be found on your local televisions MSG channel.

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Tags: Buffalo Sabres Montreal Canadiens

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