The current state of the Buffalo Sabres is pretty darn ugly. Outside of a pair of players, there is no scoring. Despite playing strong hockey, their franchise netminder can’t keep three goals from getting by. The head coach seems to be making baffling lineup choices while the general manager is generally stuck due to a ridiculous injury situation and tight cap number.
All of that plus the fact the Sabres are three points behind tonight’s opponent for tenth in the conference. Raise your hand if you had the Sabres in the draft lottery rather than the top five this season. Nobody? Okay.
In all seriousness, tonight’s game (along with the remaining 42) is a must win. Buffalo is five points from a playoff position and need a strong run in order to secure a berth yet again. If the Sabres are able to establish some footing, last night’s loss will be nothing more than a hiccup. While that loss fits perfectly with the disheartening trend the team has picked up, it certainly be discarded with some strong play.
The Sabres victimized the Jets in their first meeting and probably would have blown their doors off if it hadn’t been for some terrible defensive zone coverage. Ryan Miller earned a victory in that game despite being piled on by the fans and hung out to dry by his team.
While a 60-minute effort still evades this team, simply finishing chances may be all that is necessary to win a few games. Last night was a perfect example, they can’t afford to provide yet another.
Sabres centers. Jochen Hecht is nothing more than a warm body between Vanek and Pominville. They really don’t need anything else at this point. Luke Adam will surely fill a larger role this evening and Ville Leino’s return may be pushed based on Derek Roy’s injury. The Sabres didn’t properly address their biggest need this offseason and now it is staring them square in the face – if it hadn’t been already this season.
BUF: Ryan Miller 24 GP 10-11-2, 3.05 GAA, .901 SV%
WPG: Ondrej Pavelec 33 GP 14-13-5, 2.94 GAA, .907 SV%