The Sabres aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but they are in a position where they need every point available to play in the second season.
There is a chance that Lindy Ruff will be back behind the bench, but that has yet to be confirmed. Zack Kassian appears as if he will remain on the wing with Brad Boyes and Matt Ellis for the near future. Buffalo is still without Jochen Hecht and Cody McCormick, but are otherwise healthy – particularly with regards to their skill players.
Buffalo’s lack of scoring and slow starts have been just about an epidemic this season. The Sabres need to shake that habit immediately if they expect to be playing well into April. That starts with finishing chances. Buffalo has missed on a number of glorious opportunities this season and it has reflected in the standings. Ryan Miller has been providing excellent goaltending as of late but hasn’t gotten the necessary goal support.
If Buffalo can score more than three goals for more than just two games in a row, they will have a punchers chance at reaching the postseason.
Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek vs. New Jersey’s defense. There is no mistaking the two most valuable players on Buffalo’s roster this season. Vanek has been back for two games and has a goal and an assist. Pominville has the same stat line in those two games. It just so happens each assisted on the other’s goal. New Jersey’s defense has gotten pretty thin as of late and Buffalo could really take advantage of a weak set of defensemen tonight. Of course they also have to deal with Marty Brodeur.
BUF: Ryan Miller
NJD: Martin Brodeur