We’re two weeks away from the trading deadline, and slowly we’re starting to see how things are going to shake out in the East. The Western Conference is a complete disaster, with almost everyone but Colorado still fighting for a playoff spot. When we played Phoenix a few weeks ago they were in a playoff spot. A 1-9 record in their last ten has put them in 14th place and way out of things. That’s just the kind of race it’s been.
The East is a bit easier to dissect. There’s a gap between the 8th and 9th spot, and it looks like the top ten teams in the East are the only ones still in the race. We know which teams we need to root against, and what games to watch night in and night out.
Last night the Rangers helped Buffalo out again, taking another tough road loss in St. Louis. The loss means that a win against Toronto tonight puts the teams each with 66 points and 58 games played. It’s an opportunity the Sabres had on Sunday and refused to capitalize on, but the quotes we heard after that game make you think things will be different tonight.
We know Montreal won’t go down easy, and the Rangers aren’t going to pack it in either. They will make some moves, and before March 4th we are going to see some big trades in the East as teams gear up for the postseason.
I don’t expect the Sabres to make any trades until that deadline, but where Buffalo will improve is with their injured players returning. Gaustad is close to coming back, and Tallinder is getting there as well. Those are two big pieces coming back into the lineup, and we all know another big player comes back just after the trading deadline.
Tonight the Sabres can move up in Toronto, but fans will be watching the scoreboard as well. Carolina is at home against Boston, and Florida plays host to New Jersey. The top two teams in the conference are taking on two teams the Sabres need to see lose. It’s an interesting hallway we’ve got ourselves in, isn’t it?