Playoff lives on the line vs. Rangers

Tonight at the First Niagara Center, the Buffalo Sabres play host to the New York Rangers. As a result of the standings, this game is all but technically a playoff game with both teams looking to secure the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo enters the contest on a three game winning streak and the Rangers picked up a convincing two points in a 6-1 victory against Florida on Thursday.

The chances of Buffalo making the playoffs were made slimmer last night with Winnipeg and both New York teams picking up wins. That being said, Buffalo’s big win in Boston has kept the flame lit and they now are presented with a golden opportunity to draw nearer to the Rangers.

The Sabres still rest in 10th place with 44 points and are four points back of 9th place Winnipeg and the Rangers who currently hold the coveted 8th spot. Tonight’s game is a four point match up; the winner grabs the two points but also prevents their opponent from advancing at all. In order for the Sabres to have a shot at a postseason berth, they must win in regulation. They cannot afford another point to the team they are trying so desperately to catch.

Both the Sabres and the Rangers had high expectations coming into the season but have struggled throughout the shortened season with consistency. The Sabres and Rangers have found a little momentum at the end of the season and each comes in with a 6-3-1 record in the last ten games. Buffalo looks to feed off their home crowd’s energy and close to within two points of the Rangers with three games remaining.

The remaining games for Buffalo are not easy games. After playing the Rangers, the Sabres travel to Pittsburgh to take on arguably the hottest team in the league. The Penguins sit on top of the Conference and are currently on a five game winning streak without stars Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The last two games of the season are played at home and against the very teams Buffalo attempts to catch; Winnipeg and the New York Islanders.

The rest of the season will be played as if they are playoff games. To beat the Rangers the Sabres must carry over the momentum from their Boston win. They did not play a perfect game in Boston but they were able to motivate themselves at the right moments and show sufficient amount of resilience against a good but shaken up Boston team.

In the Boston game they were able to pick up the physical play, an effort spearheaded by hometown hero Patrick Kaleta. They were able to get the goals when needed especially on the powerplay against the number one penalty kill unit. Last but not least, Ryan Miller was outstanding. Strong goaltending, strong special teams and physical play will once again need to be brought to the forefront to beat the Rangers tonight.

The puck drops at 7 p.m. and the game will be aired on MSG.

Elias Ayoub
Elias Ayoub
Elias Ayoub is a 15-year-old from Clarence who has studied at Erie Community College and Daemen College but currently attends Clarence High School. Elias has been following Sabres hockey from a very young age; tuning in well before the NHL lockout. Not only is Elias interested in Buffalo's hockey club, but he also follows closely the moves of other teams and enjoys watching out of market NHL games. Apart from hockey, Elias enjoys most sports, writing, debate, music, and working with film and video. Above all else, Elias loves Buffalo, NY; the city and its sports teams.
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