Things are falling into place in a very similar fashion in which they did last season. The Sabres have charged hard to the brink of a playoff spot and will face a Southeast Division foe, on the road, to basically determine who will steal the final playoff spot in the East.
Buffalo’s showdown in DC on Tuesday may just seal up the playoff bid for the two teams competing. The Sabres are in this boat after another hard-fought win. Last night’s 3-1 win over Minnesota was particularly impressive considering the Sabres had to travel (only from NYC) after playing the night before to face a team with a day of rest.
The road weary Sabres ended up throwing 37 shots on goal and played 40 minutes of hockey that looked pretty impressive. Perhaps the second and third periods looked good because the Sabres didn’t allow 16 shots like they did in the first.
Ryan Miller finished with 24 saves and was excellent when his team needed him in the first. He also made a pretty huge stop on a funky play by Christian Ehrhoff in the second. I’m not sure when Ryan Miller will get another game off. You have to think Friday’s game against Pittsburgh or Saturday vs. Toronto would give Jhonas Enroth a look, but points have become so valuable that he may not get another game.
Last night’s victory was a strong showing from a team that could have easily suffered a letdown. The Sabres again got great contributions from the Vanek, Hodgson, Tropp and Foligno, Ennis, Stafford lines on their way to three goals (really just two). Now they just need to outscore Washington on Tuesday.
- Travis Turnbull has really acquitted himself quite well in his brief NHL debut. I’m not sure when he will be sent back to Rochester, I suppose it all hinges on the health of Pat Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe.
- Considering the injured players on the Buffalo roster, I wonder where Lindy Ruff has Kaleta and Gerbe penciled in? Moving one of Buffalo’s fourth line players to the press box seems like a pretty easy decision to make. Cody McCormick or even Brad Boyes could find themselves sitting once Gerbe and Kaleta are back in the lineup. If Jochen Hecht was able to fully recover it would make things even more interesting.
- Cody Hodgson has settled in nicely. I said this the other day, but I’ll say it again. He looks as if some practice time and additional rest to adjust to all the travel he had to deal with has gotten him back to form. I love seeing him skate with Vanek, it is a damn good line.
- Let’s give Marcus Foligno number 71 next season, okay? I understand that Derek Whitmore is the current owner of that number, but obviously Foligno isn’t going anywhere. Time to let him pick his permanent number.
- I’m beginning to think the off-ice officials in Buffalo don’t give out hits very often. Only 11 for the Sabres last night.
- Two more powerplay goals for the Sabres, even though one was actually an ENG. That unit has been better lately, maybe not good, but better. If the powerplay was a little more potent the Sabres could be a very dangerous team to deal with.