Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sabres/Canadiens Preview

At least the scoreboard was nice to watch last night. The Bruins lost to the Devils 1-0 in a shootout only getting a point and the Flyers lost 4-2 to the Penguins. This means that the Bruins have 92 points now and the Flyers still have 91 and the Capitals still have 90. Therefore, the Bruins have to lose in regulation from here on out, the Flyers can still get a point and the Capitals can only get a point. The Sabres have to win out for any of these things to help and tonight is going to be a tough battle. They head to Montreal to face the division winning Canadiens. The last time these two teams met was last Friday in Buffalo when the Canadiens overcame a two goal lead in the last five minutes and Christopher Higgins scored the game winner in overtime. That cannot happen tonight. Anything but 2 points will eliminate them.

The Canadiens have already clinched the Northeast Division with their win against the Senators. They are 2 points away from the Penguins with an extra game in hand. This would be the first conference title if the Canadiens can pull it out since 1992-93. Winners of 5 out of their last 6 really makes this team dangerous and can strike at any time as they showed last Friday. They have a serious amount of firepower in Higgins, Plekanic, Kovalev, and Kostityn. They also are dangerous on the powerplay scoring at a clip of 24.3% which is good for first in the NHL. Carey Price has looked good since the Canadiens dealt away Cristobal Huet to the Capitals as well.

Getting out of this game with two points is going to be tough, but the Sabres blueline looks that it is going to have help with the return of Jaroslav Spacek. Spacek is coming off a chest injury that sidelined him for the last 10 games. His presence on the blueline is going to good for a team that has been hurting on the blueline kind of. Sekera and Weber will stay in the lineup and it looks that the odd man out on the blueline is going to be Nathan Paestch. In Paestch's case, Daniel Paille looks to be out of the lineup with an upper-body injury so it could be conceived that Paetsch could slide over to his spot. This is nothing new for Paestch who played offense for one or two games last season. EDIT: Scrap that, Paille is going to be in the lineup for tonight.

One final comment on the playoff race. gives the Sabres a 3.9% chance of making the playoffs as of right now. The Capitals do play tonight against the Lightning. If the Lightning win, the Sabres chance of making the playoffs increases 6.5%. If the Capitals lose, the chance of making the playoffs decreases 1.7% If the Sabres win tonight, their chance of making the playoffs increases 7.8% and are out if they lose. I think this is a big game.

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