Game #66, Sabres @ Penguins: A Portage To The Unknown
We’re not in Kansas anymore.
After spending the first four months of the season wandering the barren vastlands of 9th-15th, the Sabres are in the top 8 of the conference thanks to Drew Stafford channeling his inner Pominville circa 05/06. But as they climb the standings, so too do they continue to fill the beds in the infirmary. With Grier, Hecht, Kaleta, and now Vanek (flu) out of the lineup tonight, Luke Adam is up on his fourth call-up and Mark Parrish has finally returned to the NHL after a season away from it.
Their opponents tonight? The equally mish-mash Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby is more likely than not done for the season, Evgeni Malkin is too, Brooks Orpik is also out, and Chris Kunitz may miss yet another game. Even with these injuries, the Penguins are still in fourth place in the conference and Dan Bylsma continues to work his magic behind the bench.
Same three keys to the game as always – chaotic forecheck, fast transition, smart defensive zone breakout. Ryan Miller will resume his place in net as the Sabres try to prevent getting swept this season by Pittsburgh. The Pens have not folded in the absense of their top two centers and will present a tough task for Buffalo. A win tonight gives the Sabres a two-point buffer over the Hurricanes and also pulls them into a tie with the Rangers, in which they have the advantage and would take over 7th for at least one day.
The Sabres are in the middle of a portage to the unknown – a climb further up the top 8 – but they have a chance to make it harder on Carolina and New York tonight.