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WAITING TO EXHALE

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 3:42 PM
By Kevin Snow - Sabres.com / BEYOND THE BOARDS
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BEYOND THE BOARDS
WAITING TO EXHALE

Just because the finish line is finally within sight, it doesn’t mean the Buffalo Sabres will be easing up on the accelerator anytime soon. That’s the overwhelming sentiment coming out of the locker room following Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Montreal.

The win allowed the Sabres to pull even with Washington at 80 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Capitals hold the first tiebreaker over Buffalo. The Capitals have 35 combined regulation and overtime wins (ROW) this season to Buffalo’s 28.

(Long story short: if the two teams remain tied after the final day of the season, all the Capitals will need is two more regulation or overtime wins in their final nine games to clinch the tiebreaker.)

Simply getting within shooting distance of eighth place is only the first step in a long climb back to respectability for a Sabres team that sat in 14th place as recently as February 16, after being manhandled 7-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers that night.

“We haven’t done anything yet, and that’s the point we’re trying to make,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “We’ve worked hard to get to this spot, but we don’t have anything. We know how tough the schedule is ahead of us. We can’t take a game for granted.

“There’s teams around you. Winnipeg is right there with Washington, and Carolina has actually moved up a little bit. We haven’t achieved anything; we know that as a team. We know that we’re gonna have to win some games that some people may expect to be too tough of a task for us.

While many point to the return to form of goaltender Ryan Miller as the catalyst for the team’s turnaround, veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr says the entire team’s play has become solidified in all facets.

“We’ve done a better job offensively in capitalizing. And I think we’ve done a better job defensively too – from the goaltenders on out to the defensemen and forwards. So there’s lots of things. All those little things that we keep talking about, those help the team win games.

“With a team in team sports, there’s a lot of moving parts to winning a game. It’s going out and playing the game plan and executing. It’s making sure you have the guys in the lineup to do that. It’s putting in the work and preparation. It all adds up to good positive stuff and wins.”



Ruff said that Nathan Gerbe is finally making some progress in his recovery from an upper body muscle strain that has kept him out of the lineup for the past four games. He will remain in Buffalo and skate on his own while the team travels to New York for Friday’s 7 p.m. game against the Rangers.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82