As big a win as it was last night, tonight is even more important. The Sabres just can’t seem to get past Ottawa this season, and if there was ever a time to shake some old demons it would be in the middle of a playoff push. A win tonight puts Buffalo back in the top eight and would start putting the pressure back on the other teams in the East. The Sabres are currently two points out of 5th, and with 17 games to play that’s plenty of time left to make some moves.
I know I’ve said before that the goal is to stay afloat while Miller heals, but the goaltending performance we’ve seen from Patrick Lalime gives me a bit more confidence in what this team can do. Clearly they feel the same, and when a team has that much swagger with the backup playing there’s no telling just how high they can climb if/when Miller comes back.
Still, there is Ottawa. It’s hard to say what makes the Sens such a tough win, but you have to think that sooner or later this Sabres team can shake it and take care of a weak division rival. Last night I had a discussion about mentally weak teams, and I wouldn’t necessarily put the Sabres into the category of weak in that regard. There clearly is something there with Ottawa, however, and it’s alarming to watch a team try distinguishing themselves from the non-playoff crowd and still lose to a team like this.
According to Sabres Edge, Lalime is in and Max may sit. I’m going to be honest: I expect a win tonight. It has to be there, and this team has to be done with dropping these games to silly little teams with a bit of history.
Exorcise the demons while you can and get out alive with two points. Otherwise, this team may sit in a position that’s just as good as 12th come season’s end.