There is no reason to exhale in Sabreland. Just because the team finally has the same number of points as eighth-place Washington -- thanks to Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Montreal -- doesn't mean Buffalo can relax.
The Sabres are focused on passing Washington, a quest that restarts Friday in New York against the Rangers.
"We haven’t got anything right now, and it’s the point we’ve tried to make," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said today after practice in First Niagara Center. "We’ve worked hard to get to this spot, but we don’t have anything. We know how tough the schedule is ahead of us. We can’t take a game for granted.
"There’s teams around you. Winnipeg is right there. We’re right there with Washington. Carolina has actually moved up a little bit. So we haven’t achieved anything, and we know that as a team. We know that we’re going to have to win some games that some people are going to expect us maybe this is going to be too tough a task."
One of those games is Friday. The Rangers lead the Eastern Conference and are one of only two teams in the NHL to have clinched a playoff spot, joining St. Louis.
"They’ve got a chance for probably first overall in the league, and they’ll push hard for that," Ruff said. "At this time of year you want to play good hockey. You want to go into the playoffs on a high, and the fact you clinch I don’t think makes that big of a difference."
Sabres left wing Nathan Gerbe, who has an upper-body muscle strain, skated on his own before practice. He has missed four games.
"He’s progressing," Ruff said. "He skated today before practice. He’s feeling better. He’ll skate again tomorrow. He won’t make the trip but will skate on his own. It looks like now he’s starting to make some good progress."