Don't Count Out the Buffalo Sabres
Three points back. Two wins out. That's all it is.
The Buffalo Sabres tend to like teasing their fans. They'll win a few games in a row, look really good and play some great hockey, then lose the next important one against a team they really should've beaten. Frustrating is a great word for it. However, when push comes to shove the Buffalo Sabres have what it takes to snag that 8th and final playoff spot.
Forwards? Okay, well let's see. Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, Tomas Vanek, Drew Stafford, Jochen Hecht, Maxim Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik. Tim Connolly would've been mentioned except for the fact that he's injured more often then he actually plays the game. These are 7 guys who can put pucks in the net, make plays, and produce offensively. Steve Bernier, Patrick Kaleta, Paul Gaustad and Adam Mair bring an excellent forecheck and physical presence to the lineup. And don't forget about Andrew Peters, who throws the fists and plays the tough guy role for the squad quite well.
The loss of Drury and Briere has definitely been portrayed over the course of the season, but it hasn't been as bad as many people believed it would've been. My boy Derek Roy has stepped up offensively this season, already amassing career highs in pretty much every offensive category there is. Jason Pominville has also set new career highs and leads the team in points with 75 (26G, 49A) in 75 games thus far. Both have been rewarded this month as Pominville is now wearing the 'C' and Roy's proudly wearing an 'A' on his left shoulder. Both for good reason. These two are the present, and the future, of the Buffalo Sabres organization. Despite starting quite slowly, Tomas Vanek has accelerated recently and now leads the team with 32 goals. This is a very good thing, as the Sabres need him to be hot right now for their upcoming playoff push.
Defensively the Sabres are a pretty young group. Especially since the injury bug has paid a visit in a pretty big way. Tallinder, Lydman and Pratt provide the veteran leadership at the back end as of right now, and three Rochester Americans hold the other defensive positions. Mike Weber, Michael Funk and Andrej Sekera are three young kids who are currently holding their own in a Buffalo Sabres uniform. Weber and Sekera are partnered up as the third defensive pairing and currently combine for a plus-15 +/-rating (Weber +12, Sekera +3). Very impressive for such a young pair. Paetsch and Numminen are expected back shortly which can only improve the already stellar Buffalo blueline. The only question now will be - who gets scratched?
There's not much to say about Ryan Miller. The guy is a stud, a workhorse. He gives the Sabres a chance to win each and every game. There's really no problem whatsoever between the pipes for the Buffalo Sabres. Ryan Miller is a winner and you can bet he'll only get better as the playoffs approach.
With a big game on Tuesday night against the Senators, the Sabres are going to have to put it all on the table. They have a pair of games against the Bruins coming up, and they play the Maple Leafs one more time before the season's end. All are huge games. If the Sabres can rally together a couple of wins, and get on a small streak starting tomorrow night, that should be more then good enough to get them into that 8th and final playoff position.
For now, there's really only one thing left to say, "Let's go Sabres!"
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