Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Peepin' Foes: Buffalo Sabres

There are 78 down, four to go and still the Ranger fate is up in their air. Game 79 is tonight in Buffalo as the Rangers duel with the Sabres at 7 pm on MSG-Plus because the Knicks - who are 11 games out of a playoff spot - take precedence with a tip off against the Celtics. Because anyone who cares about a New York/Boston rivalry will want to watch that instead of Sox/Yanks.

Where We Are: In a must-win situation. The Rangers are in ninth place, two points behind Philly in eighth and three behind Boston in seventh - with a game in hand on both. The Bruins are off until Thursday but there will be scoreboard watching tonight as the Flyers face Toronto as we battle Buffalo. The Blueshirts carry a 5-0-1 record into the game but, frankly, have not faced a good team over that six game span.

Where They Are: The Sabres have already clinched a playoff spot and lead Ottawa by five points (and have a game in hand) in the race for the Northeast Division. After a 7-1 run to end March, Buffalo opened April with losses to Toronto and Montreal.

Who To Watch For: Not Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly or our old friend Pat Kaleta - all of whom are out with injury. Undersized minor leaguers Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis have both slid into the lineup and Ennis has been quite good with five points in six games. Aside from them there is the usual duo of Derek Roy and Jason Pominville. Drew Stafford has been incredibly cold with one goal over the last 25 games so the Rangers being the Rangers, he is incredibly dangerous - as is Raffi Torres, who is on a 11 game goal drought himself.

What To Watch For: Ryan Callahan being stupid and rushing himself back into action, if the Post is to be believed. If he doesn't play, check out hartford call-up Dale Weise - a power forward type who has passed Dane Byers on the depth chart. Watch for Tyler Myers resuming his campaign for the Calder Trophy - the rookie averaged more than a point per game over the 12 games prior to the last two Buffalo losses, where he was pointless and -2 in each. And see Patrick Lalime possibly getting the start for the Sabres - he was stellar in his last two performances and has a winning career record against the Rangers; Ryan Miller has to rest some time.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Sabres stinking as bad as the air around their arena. Marc Staal making it four in a row. The 'fourth' line continuing to excel. Chris Drury to show off some of the skill that made him loved in Buffalo. Erik Christensen and P.A. Parenteau doing everything they can to earn jobs for next season.

Also Check Out: Shots off the Crossbar and SBN's Die By The Blade.

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