With the regular season winding down and a division title locked up, the Sabres have three games left against three possible playoff teams. With the Sabres ending the season back-to-back against Ottawa and New Jersey, it’s pretty obvious that both the team and their fans want to see both teams go down. New Jersey is likely to occupy the second seed as the Atlantic Division champs, and knocking them off in Newark could mean stealing the #2 spot in the conference. Oh, and Ottawa is Ottawa. I doubt any explanation is necessary.
However, that leaves tonight’s game against the Bruins. Boston sits in the 8th seed with 85 points. Right now they sit a point ahead of the Rangers with a game in hand, although New York controls their own destiny. With two games remaining against seventh place Philadelphia, a pair of wins over the Flyers moves the Rags ahead of Philadelphia and into the postseason.
What this means is that the bottom of the division is still very much undecided, but the Sabres have a fairly large impact on what could happen. Tuesday night’s win over New York put them in must-win position for the rest of the season, doing some serious damage to their playoff hopes and setting up a crazy home-and-home series against Philadelphia.
Tonight’s game against Boston, however, could actually determine who the Sabres face in the first round. Boston, Montreal, and Philadelphia are all likely first round opponents, and a Bruins win makes that matchup more likely. The question is who do the Sabres want to face, and does it really matter?
The biggest question is this: how badly do you want to beat Boston? I’ll answer my own question: very, very badly. Of course you want to see the Sabres in the second seed, and winning the last three games is almost necessary. However, most of all I want to see Boston’s playoff hopes look just a bit dimmer after tonight.
Other teams had no mercy for the Sabres the last two seasons when they were fighting for a playoff spot. In fact, the good ones smelled blood and came out hard. That’s exactly what I want to see tonight. Tuesday night against the Rangers was a good example of that. The Sabres played a solid game against New York, one that was even more evident after watching the Leafs play that same team last night.
As far as I’m concerned, the matchups will play out and we can root for opponents on the final day of the season. Right now, I want a W.