Buffalo – 6-1-1
The last time Atlanta was on the schedule they signaled the beginning of the end for this team. It began with hope and a 3-1 lead, and ended with an inexcusable shootout loss marred with mistakes and an utter lack of clutch. A disturbing loss to Ottawa was next, followed by excruciating 48 hours of pain that was the Flyers/Rangers weekend series. becomes that it is too little, too late.
Since then the Sabres have won three straight, but the closer we get to the finish line the bigger that game becomes. In fact, going 0-0-3 against Atlanta is just one of the many letdowns this team has had against weaker teams. Earlier this season it could be viewed as flukey and unfortunante, but it never was a proper excuse and it’s not now. The Sabres need a win tonight, and based on recent history it’s not going to be easy.
If Buffalo can’t beat Atlanta with Kovalchuk sitting, I have no reason to believe Johan Hedberg in net over Kari Lehtonen will do us any better. I distinctly remember being shut down by Hedberg in Hotlanta last season, the crowd chanting “MOOSE!” over and over again. See, always good memories.
The good news for Buffalo is that Pat Kaleta is okay and ready to go tonight. I loved Lindy’s line about opposing team doctors:
“And, typically, a visiting team doctor is going to rule on the stronger side to keep the visiting team’s player off the ice. You have to take that into account, too.”
Even from Ruff’s postgame comments on Saturday you could tell he was skeptical, and it’s good to hear he’s in good shape.
Also in the lineup tonight is Masterton candidate Teppo Numminen, who will most likely be paired with Jaro Spacek in the wake of Sekera’s trip to the press box. Paul Hamilton says that Max will sit tonight as will Patrick Lalime, meaning Mair and Telqvist will dress. Lalime has an apparent hip injury, but at least we’re getting some miles out of Michael while we have him. Better this than have him sweep the parking garage or something.
You know the numbers, and the Sabres are the next team in line for an “e-” next to their name in the standings. Tonight has to be a win, preferably one that comes quickly so we can start praying for the Habs to lose.
7pm from Phillips Arena.