NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Buffalo Sabres aren’t completely out of the playoff picture just yet, but they’ll have to rattle off a few wins in the second half of the season if they hope to play a little deeper into spring.
The Sabres are currently seven points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the last Wild Card spot in the east, and they have two games in hand. That’s not an insurmountable hill to climb, but the problem is that they need to leap over seven teams to get there.
They had been playing some decent hockey going into the All-Star break, which was encouraging. Unfortunately for them, their first game back was a bit of disaster, as they were thoroughly dominated in Montreal, 5-2, on Tuesday night.
Buffalo will have to put that poor performance behind them, and it starts at home against the Rangers tonight.
“That can’t be how we play. That can’t be who we are as a group,” head coach Dan Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “… That wasn’t a good game from from the group but that’s also not who we are as a group and how we play. There’s got to be a rebound as to how we respond.”
Even though the Rangers lost their last game before the break and their first game back, they’re still in a much better spot than the Sabres.
New York currently owns the top Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with a somewhat comfortable lead over the rest of the pack (they’re seven points ahead of the other Wild Card team, Philadelphia).
The one thing that’s concerning is the up and down play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. He went through a particularly bad slump last month, but it appeared as though he was coming out of it after he beat the Red Wings and Kings in back-to-back games.
But on Tuesday night, he showed that he might not be over the slump that has plagued him this season, as he was yanked after allowing three goals on 16 shots against Columbus.
“I know I need to be better,” Lundqvist said, per the New York Post. “That third goal is a killer. As a group, we responded really well in the third. Especially the third goal bothers me. It’s back to work [Wednesday] to get better [and] improve.”
This is the third goal he was referring to:
After tonight, one of these teams is going to say they were able to bounce back, while the other will keep searching for answers.
It should be a good one!