Tuesday, March 1, 2011

rounding the 3/4 pole and into the stretch they come

brad boyes was the lone sabres acquisition at the trade deadline, and as we round the pole into the home-stretch, many fans (based upon recent history) have to be wondering whether it will be enough for the team to make it to the post-season...

tonight is a critical game vs. the ny rangers...they trail the 7th-place rangers by five points with three games in hand...equally critical will be thursday's game vs. carolina...they trail the 8th-place 'canes by two points with two games in hand...

the sabres control their own near-term destiny with these two games and four points against teams directly above them in the standings would go a long way towards ultimately reaching the playoffs...

here's a look at the standings and schedules for the 7th thru 11th place teams in the eastern conference as of march 1, 2011...schedule is broken down into games vs. division leaders, playoff teams and non-playoff teams:
  • ny rangers--70 pts
  • carolina hurricane--67
  • buffalo sabres--65
  • toronto maple leafs--63
  • atlanta thrashers--63

march schedules

ny rangers (14 games):
  • division leader (2)--philly, boston
  • playoff (3)--san jose', montreal, pittsburgh
  • non-playoff (9)--buffalo (2,) minnesota, ottawa (2,) anaheim, ny islanders (2,) florida

carolina (14):
  • division leader (2)--tampa bay (2)
  • playoff (4)--chicago, washington (2,) montreal
  • non-playoff (8)--florida, buffalo (2,) atlanta, columbus, toronto, ny islanders, ottawa
buffalo (16):
  • division leader (2)--philly, boston
  • playoff (6)--ny rangers (2,) carolina (2,) pittsburgh, montreal
  • non-playoff (8)--minnesota, toronto (2,) ottawa, atlanta, nashville, florida, new jersey

toronto (15):
  • division leaders (6)--philly (2,) tampa bay, boston (2,) detroit
  • playoff (3)--pittsburgh, chicago, carolina
  • non-playoff (6)--ny islanders, buffalo (2,) florida, minnesota, colorado

atlanta (14):
  • division leaders (4)--philly (3,) vancouver
  • playoff (3)--montreal (2,) carolina
  • non-playoff (7)--ottawa (2,) flordia, new jersey (2,) buffalo, ny islanders

the sabres have a tough schedule this month playing the most games of any here...although not as tough as toronto who have six against division leaders and another three against playoff teams out of their 15 games...

the rangers have a relatively easy schedule--nine out of 15 vs. non-playoff teams--and will need it...marion gaborik, ruslan fedetenko, marc staal, chris drury and martin biron are all injured at the moment with drury and biron expected to miss the rest of the year...

atlanta plays eastern conference leader philadelphia three times and overall leader, vancouver, once and has three more games vs. playoff teams...

carolina follows a brutal schedule in february with a much easier schedule as they play eight of their 14 games vs. non-playoff teams...

the sabres mettle will be tested early in the month as they play five of their first seven road games vs. teams in the playoffs, one vs. a team (minnesota) tied for the eight spot and another vs. an upstart toronto team who's trying to make a run for the playoffs...

hopefully they'll be able to get at least seven of 14 points in the first seven games, ideally it would be best for them to snag at least nine or 10 out of 14, but the most important games are with the ones around them...the rangers and canes represent two four-point games  for the teams...

we'll stick to the mantra from the last two months...two points by any means necessary...

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