Wednesday, March 30, 2011




7th Place  41-30-5   87 Points
8th Place  38-29-9   85 Points

Buffalo Sabres: (6 games remaining) 

The Buffalo Sabres are on the cusp of completing a most impressive turn-around. They got off to a terribly sloppy start to begin the season, and to their credit have worked furiously to be in the position they find themselves in today.  The Buffalo Sabres have the benefit of playing the Devils, Maple Leafs, Rangers and Hurricanes down the stretch.  Their fortuitous schedule affords them the luxury of keeping a grip on their own destiny and eighth place (for the moment) in the Eastern Conference.  

The Devils?  Check.  Buffalo pretty much ended New Jersey's season last Saturday with a 2-0 blanking of the Devils in Buffalo.  The win earned them points two crucial points that came on the heals of the N.Y. Rangers shut-out over Boston earlier that day.

Tuesday night against Toronto, the Sabres had an opportunity to tie the idle Rangers with 87 points.  A Montreal loss Tuesday night, coupled with a Sabres win against Toronto, would have caused a three-way tie for the bottom three playoff spots in the Eastern Conference between Montreal, New York, and Buffalo (with Carolina knocking on the door).

How did it play out?

Buffalo @ Toronto
FINAL ~  Toronto 4;  Buffalo 3
Two goals in the first period and two more goals in the second period were too much for Buffalo to over-come against Toronto.  In the first period, Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead with an early goal by Dion Phaneuf and a late goal by Darryl Boyce.  But just before the first period horn sounded, Buffalo's Thomas Vanek got one back at the 19:48 mark of a very cleanly played first period.

In the second period, Toronto struck first again with a goal from Clarke MacArthur to make the score 3-1 in favor of Toronto.  About a minute and a half later, Buffalo decided to tie this contest at three.  At 6:25, Jason Pominville scored and thirty seconds later Rod Niedermayer scored again for Buffalo to knot things up at three apiece.

But Toronto has been resilient and decided they were going matter down the stretch.  After that burst by the Sabres, Toronto put Buffalo right back down when Mikhail Grabovski scored at the 13:35 mark of the second period.  And that was that.  The third period remained scoreless and the Sabres did not capitalize on two points that would have tied them with the Rangers heading into their showdown Wednesday evening. 

Ryan Miller who has been playing as well as ever got credited with a tough loss.  It was because of him, the score against the Maple Leafs stayed respectable.  The shots-on-goal were pretty even but Miller made spectacular saves for Buffalo.

Tonight's Buffalo loss allowed Carolina to get two points closer to the eighth spot.  Buffalo still stands at 85 points while Carolina up-ticked to 82 points.  Toronto has now also joined the 80 point club.

Buffalo will be playing back-to-back games while the Rangers have been off since Saturday afternoon.

Buffalo Fans ~ Follow @PatMalacaroWGR on Twitter.

Atlanta @ Montreal
FINAL ~  Montreal 3;  Atlanta 1
Montreal straightened out after slipping.  Instead of potentially being in a three-way tie, with their win Tuesday, they up-ticked over the N.Y. Rangers by two points.  With 89 points, it's now up to the Rangers to keep pace with Montreal.

The Atlanta Thrashers?  Atlanta, meet the Devils.  Devils, meet Atlanta.  Both of you guys are done.  Go find something to do.

Carolina @ Washington
FINAL ~ Carolina 3;  Washington 2 - Shoot-Out
It took a lot of hard work and a shoot-out, but the Carolina Hurricanes kept their hopes alive with a big win over number two seeded Washington.  Carolina is still square in Buffalo's and New York's rear-view mirror and don't seem willing to go away.  They now have 82 points leaving them only three behind Buffalo.

The New Look Eastern Conference:
#1 ~ Philadelphia
#2 ~ Washington
#3 ~ Boston
#4 ~ Pittsburgh
#5 ~ Tampa Bay
#6 ~ Montreal ~ 89 points
#7 ~ NEW YORK ~ 87 points
#8 ~ Buffalo ~ 85 points
#9 ~ Carolina ~ 82 points
#10 ~ Toronto ~ 80 Points

NEW YORK RANGERS: (6 games remaining).

My last post, King Lundqvist XI still covers most everything I want to say for the moment.  You can check that out if you like.

Three days off?  They needed the rest; especially Henrik Lundqvist and maybe to a lesser degree, Marc Staal.
But, boy do I hate these long lay-offs.  I think they're momentum killers.  And right now, the Rangers have a ton of momentum on their side.

As well as we've been feeling about the Rangers' late season surge, Buffalo is still right there breathing down our necks.  With a loss Wednesday night, our back-side will be exposed and sitting tied in eighth place.

The big question going into this game is ~ Who is going to be the next healthy scratch?  Is it within Coach Torts to give Sean Avery a second consecutive start fresh off Avery getting into a fight on his first shift, in his first game back, after being a repeated healthy scratch?

I started writing this post yesterday. So, I just learned Ryan Miller will not start in goal tonight for Buffalo due to the ol' "Upper Body Injury".  The Blueshirts should consider themselves fortunate for this development.  He's been in classic form lately  It's a good break for us; bad for Buffalo.  It will be bad for us too if we do not capitalize.  Now with Ryan Miller out, the Ranger MUST seize the moment.  This is their biggest game of the season to date.

The Big Bash In Buffalo

Let's Do This!



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