February 26, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Jason Pominville (29) passes the puck as Tampa Bay Lightning center Alex Killorn (17) and defenseman Victor Hedman (77) attempt to defend during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Sabres Storylines: The Odds of Getting Hit By Lightning Are . . . .

When it comes to teaching, and usually with blogging, I try to adhere to the K.I.S.S. philosophy: keep it simple, stupid!

If only the NHL playoff scenarios would follow suit.

Heading into tonight’s schedule of games, only ten points separates 7th place in the Eastern Conference from 14th place, with only five points in between the 8th and the 13th slot, and only two points between the 9th and 12th.  It’s absolutely wild, and while that is great from a spectator’s point of view, trying to sort out all of the possible outcomes is complicated enough to make me wish I was sitting back in the Neuroanatomy class I had to take as a graduate student at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Try as I might to keep things simple – just win, Buffalo! – there are too many teams within striking distance to clear this muddled mess up.

This much I do know, however: with the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders, both of whom are one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres in the standings, facing off against one another tonight, there is no chance whatsoever that the Sabres can pass both of these teams.  Buffalo was briefly ahead of both the Capitals and the Islanders this past weekend, but as luck would have it, each of those teams won on Sunday, which allowed them to demote the Sabres from 10th place down to 12th place.  Now, the best the Sabres can hope for after tonight is to begin Wednesday in the 11th spot of the Eastern Conference.  The worst case-scenario?  A loss by the Sabres, coupled with a win by the Philadelphia Flyers, will allow Philadelphia to tie the Sabres.

I think I’m going to be sick.

So it’s another must-win game . . . but turning their three-game winning streak into a quartet of consecutive wins will not be easy, as the Sabres must go on the road to play a Tampa Bay Lightning team that is trying to silence critics who claim they already have begun mailing it in.   The Sabres dodged a bit of an emotional bullet when GM Steve Yzerman decided to name Jon Cooper, not ex-Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, as the new head coach of the team.  I shuddered to think how the Sabres would play when faced with the task of playing against their recently-fired head coach, so at least we won’t have to worry about those emotions swirling around inside of the Sabres players tonight.  Still, you can easily make the argument that the Lightning are the more desperate of the two teams right now, so the Sabres better be prepared to hunker down and weather an early storm, because I am willing to bet my youngest child (boo!) that the Lightning will try to blitz Buffalo early.   The Capitals jumped out quickly on the Sabres not too long ago, and it didn’t end well for the boys in blue and gold.  Buffalo absolutely needs to be mentally prepared for an early flurry and avoid giving up the early goal, so they can gradually assert their own agenda on the home team.  The Sabres need two points to stay afloat in the playoff race, so I’m praying to the weather gods that there’s a zero percent chance of getting struck by lightning tonight.

Predictions for tonight’s game?  Leave them below, or @theamazingMrS, and be sure to read Tim Redinger’s more in-depth pre-game post regarding tonight’s crucial match up!

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Tampa Bay Lightning

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