It always seems like the Sabres live and die with the West Coast road trip, doesn’t it? So many years it seems like what happens out West determines how the Sabres do on the year. We’ve seen many teams crumple in Alberta and California only to do the same in the standings, so often that it feels like a rite of passage for playoff bound Sabres teams. Last year the West Coast swing became the road trip from hell, with me photoshopping Lindy’s head onto Ice Cube’s body for effect. Bad times.
With the Sabres currently sitting in 7th, this road trip once again looks to tell us a lot about this team. Next week will take us into February, and before you know it the trade deadline will fly by and we will wonder where all the hockey went. If the Sabres want to delay the long summer they are going to need to climb the standings a bit, and there’s no better way to do that than against Western Conference opponents. Bonus points don’t hurt you, and the team should we well rested and have little distractions on the road.
Buffalo is coming off a tough road stretch against Tampa and Florida, but were riding high prior to Wednesday night’s game. At this point they should know how to play road games, and although the teams are unfamiliar the atmosphere shouldn’t be. Once again Buffalo faces problems on the blue line, with converted winger Marc-Andre Gragnani called up for the road trip. That leaves only three starters on the blueline (Lydman, Rivet, Spacek) for arguably the most important road trip of the season.
I don’t want to get into the “how many points should they take” game, but I honestly think they can sweep this road trip. Calgary and Phoenix will be tough games, but neither are light years ahead of this team. It will be important to start strong, as we saw last season how a bad start can sink a road trip. Win tonight and the chance is there to come back home with a surge. Lose a few, and this team could be dead in the water.
9PM from Rexall Place in Edmonton. The venue, announcers, and start time may be foreign, but hopefully the team wearing blue and gold will look the same.