By John Vogl
The Sabres are aware most people are counting them out. They still have faith in each other.
Buffalo has won two straight heading into Sunday's home game against New Jersey, and the players are eager to finish this season strong.
"It’s a big game for this group just to keep the momentum going," forward Nathan Gerbe said today after practice in First Niagara Center. "In the past in the season, we would lose this game. Now we’ve got to win it.
"Our main focus is still to win. Obviously, we’re not cashing in this season. We’re within reach of playoffs. We know that as a group, and we have guys here that can get it done. We’ve got a good solid group here still, good core, and we’ve just got to keep winning."
The 12th-place Sabres are four points behind the eighth-place New York Islanders with an equal number of games played. Buffalo has 10 games left.
For the sixth straight game, the Sabres are expected to be without Thomas Vanek. The leading scorer practiced again today but likely won't face the Devils.
"He is getting better, yeah, but I don’t think he’ll be ready for tomorrow," coach Ron Rolston said. "We’re hoping the best-case scenario would be Tuesday [in Winnipeg]."
Ville Leino was again the only player absent. It's questionable whether he will play again this season.
"He’s probably out indefinitely right now with upper body," said Rolston, who added the injury does not require surgery. "I don’t know where that’s going to end up, but we’ll see how it goes."
taggedNathan Gerbe | Thomas Vanek | Ville Leino