By Mike Harrington
The Sabres are on their fourth three-game winning streak of the season -- all of which have come under interim coach Ron Rolston. They've yet to get win No. 4 for any of those streaks, and they need to do it tonight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The New York Rangers are in town, with the Sabres desperately needing a regulation win because they're four points behind the Rangers in the race for eighth place in the East and the Blueshirts have a game in hand.
The Sabres' hope will be left dangling by a thread if they get one point; officially in but with basically no hope. They will be officially out of the playoffs for the fourth time in six years if they lose in regulation tonight. They got zero help last night out of town, so their only hope basically comes down to the Sabres running the table in their last four games to finish at 52 points and holding on to the slim hope that will be enough.
"It starts with us winning," said winger Drew Stafford. "If we're not winning games, it doesn't matter what other teams are going to do. They'll help us maybe, but it starts with us getting the two points and making sure we're doing our job."
The Sabres have gone 9-4-2 in their last 13 games. They're back to .500 (19-19-6) for the first time since they were 3-3-1 on Jan. 31. Pretty interesting, given the trades of Jordan Leopold, Robyn Regher and Jason Pominville, and the season-ending injury to Tyler Myers.
"It's a testament to the character in this room," Stafford said. "We have a leadership core here, with some guys obviously more outspoken than others in the last few weeks. But at the same time, there's no quit ... no one giving up, not giving in no matter how hard or how miserable it's gotten in here. We have a chance and we're hanging on to that until the end here."
They just had to build their confidence more than anything and start to feel good about themselves," Rolston said. "I didn't think early on that was the case. They were just waiting for something bad to
happen. Through the course of the last half of the season, they built confidence in themselves as
individuals and resiliency that's needed to come back in games or hold tight when stretches aren't going their way."
It will be Ryan Miller in goal tonight against Henrik Lundqvist. Miller is 13-5-5, 2.19, .927 against the Rangers in his career while King Henrik has rather pedestrian numbers against Buffalo (11-10-2, 2.36, .918).
Click below to hear Rolston's pregame session with reporters.
taggedNew York Rangers | Ron Rolston