Geoff Burke USPresswire
Fan Appreciation Night for the 2011-2012 season has arrived. In February, most Sabres fans were wondering what Fan Appreciation night might hold, seeing the team skate to center ice, raise their sticks, and bid the fans a fair adieu heading into the off season. Heading into tonights game the Buffalo Sabres sit tied for eighth, holding onto the final playoff spot because they have a game in hand on the Washington Capitals – and the same number of points. The Sabres are now in a viscous cycle of musical chairs with the Washington Capitals. A win tonight puts the two point spread between the teams again. An overtime loss puts the Sabres up by just one, and a loss gives Washington the tie breaker. Two points jumps the Buffalo Sabres into a tie with the Ottawa Senators based on points.
Ottawa is off tonight, so they will remain in seventh based on the game in hand, put it puts the Sabres in the mix for two playoffs sots, making the post season push a little easier.
Tonights opponent will not make things easy on the Buffalo Sabres, with their recent slump The Penguins are just five points behind the first place Rangers – but could be coasting a little bit given the fact they one of only three teams in the East who have clinched a playoff spot so far.
The Penguins come in tonight coming off the second loss in back to back losses to the New York Islanders last night, prepared to face a refreshed and hopefully focused Buffalo Sabres squad.
Only one out of town score to watch tonight, with a Buffalo win, it will give the team 88 points – Winnipeg plays Carolina tonight and sits just outside the playoff picture with 78 points, while not mathematically eliminated yet, the possibility of Winnipeg making the playoffs is slim to none, but still possible. A Carolina victory keeps the Jets at 78 with four games remaining on their schedule, so the Sabres could do well to eliminate another team from the playoff hopefuls tonight.
This is the final game of the season between the Sabres and Penguins, and despite the Penguins being on of the hottest teams in the league with their skill and depth, the Sabres have a 2-1 edge in the season series. The only game they dropped was an 8-3 loss in Pittsburg during the woeful December days. The Sabres will be looking to make the streak six wins in a row, while the Penguins are trying to avoid dropping their fourth game in five attempts.
While both teams know that a win tonight is important, they are both focused on the fact that they have to focus on their own game – for Buffalo its maintaining a high level of play that has allowed them to climb back into contention, for the Penguins its returning to the form that allowed them to go 13-0-1 during their best streak of the season.
Tonight is Fan Appreciation Night, so if your heading to the First Niagara Center there is plenty to look forward to. There will not be a parade of alumni like last years anniversary celebration, but there will be alumni on hand.
Pregame is set to start at 5PM at the foot of Washington Street, as the ever popular Plaza Party returns to get fans buzzed about tonights game.
The team that runs the Sabres concessions has dropped prices for the 530-630 hour for early arrivals.
The 50/50 raffle is gauranteed to be at least $25,000. The team will offer the jersey off their backs to lucky fans at the end of the game. Lindy Ruff will also partake in this event, giving one lucky fan the “game-worn” tie.
The team will hand out boom sticks, and will award players team awards prior to the start of the game, as well as honor the Sabres Seventh Man Award for the second straight year.