Every game is a big game
The mantra is going to be similar for each game that remains on the schedule. I don’t think “must win” is quite applicable yet, because I equate “must win” with needing to “win out”, and we’re far from that point. I’d say the points are needed, but we’re not at “must win” quite yet.
To guarantee a playoff spot, 100 points are going to be needed at the end of the season. If the Sabres get to 100 points, there’s no way they’ll miss. That’s not realistic though.
Realistically, the number is a little lower than that, but not by much. I tweeted last week that the Sabres needed 20 wins in their last 32 games to get into the playoffs. With the teams they need to catch (and pass) not exactly setting the league on fire, it should be enough to sneak in.
Saturday night’s win over the Leafs was the first of 20. But to break it down into smaller increments, they gotta win two out of every three games.
So, let’s forget Saturday, and look at the next three: tonight at Tampa Bay, Thursday at Florida, and Sunday against the New York Islanders.
Tonight is the key game of the stretch. Tampa Bay is pretty good this year, and the Lightning have been rolling of late, winning seven of their last ten. Tampa has taken both meetings with the Sabres this season, by scores of 2-1 (in Buffalo) and 3-1 (in Tampa). The Sabres have played them close, but not well enough.
As odd as it may sound, Buffalo needs this game because they play Florida on Thursday. The Panthers, who as a franchise are kind of a mess and have been for a while, have in their two previous meetings allowed the Sabres to put up possibly their two worst performances of the season, both Florida wins.
Not being able to sink confidence into the team’s ability to win Thursday, you’d like to see them grab two points while they can in Tampa. The Islanders, well, that’s just a game you need to win.
So that just leaves them tonight, a game against the 2nd place team in the East on national television across the continent. Is it a big game?
Every game is a big game.
Faceoff is at 7:30.