Later this afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres will play another team with little to play for as the Sabres try to back themselves into the final playoff spot. Hope for that is still available – but the clearance rack has been geared up and the Sabres are one loss away from being able to mail it in the rest of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning aren’t all exactly on mail it in mode. Steven Stamkos and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin are battling in out to the end of the season for the Rocket Richard Trophy as the leading goal scorer in the National Hockey League. Stamkos currently trails Ovechkin by a single goal.
For the Buffalo Sabres - they are coming off a pretty boring 1-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite a spirited first five minutes of the game which included a Patrick Kaleta fist fight – the game died down below a dull roar the rest of the way – which offensively amounted to a goal that game off no shot on the score sheet. Erhoff’s initial shot went wide – the boards of First Niagara Center getting the first star honors – with Steve Mason surprised by the puck being behind him. Buffalo enters the night six points behind the eight place New York Rangers – with six games remaining. Buffalo could catch the Rangers, but will need a lot of help – the Rangers hold a game in hand on the Buffalo Sabres, on top of the six point lead. For the Sabres – Tampa is one of the only teams left without something to fight for on their schedule.
Remaining games on the Buffalo Sabres schedule include teams fighting for positions in the playoff race, and divisional contests. Pittsburgh might be the only team after today that has nothing left on the table, as they have locked up their division. They are within distance of the 2013 Presidents Trophy – just two points behind the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite playing solid in the net for Buffalo – expect Jhonas Enroth to resume his position on the bench – unless Ron Rolston wants to see what his backup can do in back to back situations. With the faint glimmer of hope remaining, I would put money on Ryan Miller starting tonight’s game.