How far will the Rangers get this season?

The Battle For Seventh

Are you ready for a goalie duel?

Are you ready for a goalie duel?

As hot as the Rangers have been lately, the Buffalo Sabres have still managed to keep pace every step of the way and are now just two points behind New York.  That means that tonight’s match between the two is for control of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.  It’s not accurate to say that the winner has that spot locked up, but with just five games remaining, this is indeed a crucial game. 

Just as the Rangers have been buoyed by phenomenal goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist in March, the Sabres have been propelled by Ryan Miller, who was the NHL’s first star last week.  Miller struggled through injuries during the first half of the season, but it’s no coincidence that Buffalo has ascended the standings in the second half since he’s been healthy.  The Sabres fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night but are 4-1-1 in their last six.  They have also received tremendous play of late from slow-starting forwards Thomas Vanek, Tyler Ennis, Drew Stafford and Jason Pominville.  Brad Boyes, who played his first game as a Sabre against the Rangers, has also been a welcome addition to the club with five goals and five assists in 15 games.  But the hottest player on the team is defenseman Andrej Sekera who has posted two goals and 15 assists in his last 16 games.  Sekera is just 24, but his previous career high was 19 points in his first four NHL seasons.  As with the Rangers, the Sabres have been boosted by very strong special teams down the stretch and have gone 20 for 20 on their recent penalty killing opportunities and five for 21 on recent power plays.

The Rangers should have no trouble getting up for this game, and might have a slight edge as the Sabres will be playing a back-to-back.  However, because the Sabres lost last night, they face a lot of pressure to come away with two points tonight.  It will be interesting to see how Buffalo, typically a well organized and well coached team, responds.  There’s not much doubt that the Blueshirts see this as a playoff game and will come out with their best effort, but this game may mean more for Buffalo.  Another loss would grant the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes a good bit of hope, but a win might seal the deal. 

These two teams aren’t too different in terms of skill level, and this game could well come down to a duel between Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan Miller.  Don’t expect a lot of goals tonight, but neither team will be eager to send this game into overtime.  


Posted by Kevin Baumer | March 30, 2011 at 11:00 am

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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