Cam Ward is starting to make the Carolina Hurricanes a real headache of a spoiler team, but the Buffalo Sabres narrowly escaped that challenge by eking out a 3-2 OT win tonight.
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Tough to Ward off
Ward has been a thorn in the side of Eastern Conference playoff bubble challengers in the last two nights. It’s easy to beat up on the Washington Capitals for losing another important game on Tuesday, but Ward needed to stop 46 out of 49 shots for the Canes to beat the Caps in overtime. With just 24 hours of rest, Ward nearly repeated the feat against Buffalo but his 39-for-42 output fell just a bit short.
With this win, the Buffalo Sabres’ playoff hopes keep kicking. Seeing the Toronto Maple Leafs drop a 3-2 regulation loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t hurt, either. Here’s your bubble update:
8. Winnipeg: 72 points, 15 games remaining
9. Washington: 70 points, 16 GR
10. Buffalo: 70 points, 15 GR
11. Tampa Bay: 68 points, 16 GR
12. Toronto: 67 points, 15 GR
Perhaps the most promising element is that the Sabres are the hottest team of the bunch. Buffalo is an impressive 7-1-2 in its last 10 games and is right up there with Washington and Tampa Bay in the “on paper talent” category.
Better yet, the Capitals and Jets face some scheduling stumbling blocks, the Maple Leafs remain in something of an identity crisis and the Lightning will be without their most competent goalie for perhaps the rest of the season.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Buffalo is in a great spot to make the playoffs with an improbable end run down the stretch. If you’re the New York Rangers, do you really want to see Ryan Miller and a varied offensive attack in the first round?
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.