Here is the schedule for the Swords and Bears first round match up.
Thursday, April 15 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. MSG
Saturday, April 17 at Buffalo, 1:00 p.m. NBC, CBC
Monday, April 19 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. MSG, CBC
Wednesday, April 21 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. MSG, CBC
*Friday, April 23 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. MSG
*Monday, April 26 at Boston, 7:00 p.m. MSG
*Wednesday, April 28 at Buffalo, 7:00 p.m. MSG
Heading into the playoffs, Buffalo might as well be called a……..
A more apropos moniker for the Buffalo Sabres heading into the playoffs does not exist.
If you can skate like the wind and love driving the net to score those dirty goals necessary for victories in the playoffs, the line forms to the left at the entrance way to the HSBC arena.
It has grown more and more frustrating the past 2 years following the double dose of excellence post lockout to constantly listen to Darcy Regier spout flowery adjectives about the farm system and the prospects in the A.
While there is a lot of truth to that, his words have come to fruition these past 3 weeks.
Mix in a Patrick Kaleta hanging thumb, a Jochen Hecht crumpled finger, and a Tim Connolly dented foot (broken anyone?) from a blocked shot (save your flamingo pose jokes on his block attempt) and it’s get up to the big show time for Ennis, Gerbe, and Mancari.
All 3 have looked good to varying degrees on most nights, but the revelation has been Tyler Ennis.
The fan base has gone from a murmur to a screaming roar about bringing Ennis up and his performance the past 2-3 weeks has done nothing to quell that. He has been exceptional at home and decent on the road. It would be fair to say he has more than a little Danny Briere in him with a heaping helping of toughness on top of that.
Buffalo already has their young, developing little ball of hate (a Patty Verbeek salute for all you hockey old timers) known as Tim Kennedy and now with Ennis entrenching his blades and sticks in the Sabres locker room, the team may just have an ace up their sleeve.
In the upcoming series, they are going to need it.
Here are the lines you can expect to see when all Buffalo’s healthy players are back :
ENNIS CONNOLLY POMMER
KENNEDY ROY VANEK
HECHT GAUSTAD GRIER
TORRES MAIR KALETA
Boston is more than capable, with Tuukka Rask playing so well, of pulling the upset.
So much so in fact that many, many hockey experts are picking Boston as the first round upset.
Not so fast Skippy’s!
One very fun match up to watch will be when the two giant oak trees on skates will be roaming the ice simultaneously in Zdeno Chara and Buffalo’s baby Chara ; Tyler Myers.
Tyler Myer’s play in these playoffs as a baby faced, can’t grow a single whisker, 20 year old will be fascinating.
Watch for a big play, pass, or goal in game 1, and if that happens, watch out for the remainder of the playoffs.
If you breakdown the team’s by units, meaning Goaltending, Defense, Forwards, Penalty Kill, and Power Play, you may see the advantages Buffalo does own.
Yes, the season series was close and Boston was 4-2. Eliminate the 2 games where a goalie not named Miller was between the pipes and Buffalo did not lose in regulation to Boston this season.
Both teams possess an excellent Penalty Kill while Buffalo’s Power Play is better and has been much improved the past month.
Many are arguing that Rask is as good or better than Miller due to his shortened season stats.
I do not agree. Boston plays a strict defense, defense, and more defense system when many times it seems like it’s a fine by the coach if any Bruins player is in the offensive zone before the opposing team brings the puck out.
There is every potential that many of these games will cure your insomnia.
Boston’s offense is, well, offensive. The Sabres offense was in hibernation until 6-7 weeks ago where they have had a surge that has risen them from the bottom to the top 10 in goals scored.
Jason Pominville, Derek Roy, and Thomas Vanek all have steaming hot stick blades heading into the playoffs which bodes well.
If Buffalo had a healthy Connolly and Hecht (who have both performed very well all year), I think Buffalo would win without question.
With those 2 key contributors out and questionable (although the length of the series will help along with game 5 being almost 2 weeks away) for the series, Boston has a chance, although I don’t think they will win.
Buffalo should win this series in 6 games. Could they lose? Sure. Should they lose? Absolutely not.
Lindy Ruff is 5-1 in first round series and this team is superior to Boston’s team. That is not a debate.
In fact, Buffalo fans should be rooting for the Devils to take out the Flyers because Buffalo can definitely beat the Devils in the 2nd round.
Ask any true Sabres fan though and you will get 2 differing and equally strong thoughts : they think that Buffalo has no chance against Boston or they think Buffalo can get to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Team enigma starts it’s postseason Thursday night at home in front of what will assuredly be a raucous crowd versus the Bruins.
Why will Boston win? Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending, and superb special teams play.
Why will Buffalo win? Continued hot streaks by the big 3 (Pominville, Roy, Vanek), the PP keeps cooking, a more active scoring D, and they wear down Boston with their much better depth.
What will happen? Not even the players know what to expect.
About the Author
Written by William Brouillette