And so here we are, the final weekend of the regular season. Of course, there’s plenty of drama, and more questions than answers. But hey, it’s sports, there’s not supposed to be a script. That’s why we watch.
Tonight, we start off with the Sabres. It’s never an easy matchup when Ryan Miller is in net. He’s been hurt and missed a few games, but might be back tonight. If not, his backup hasn’t been to shabby either. Jhonas Enroth is 3-1, with a shutout, since taking the helm. Meanwhile, Tomas Vanek is really picking up the scoring, including a hat trick in their last game. This team is much hungrier than the Flyers, because it’s still possible for them to lose a playoff spot. If they lose their final games in regulation, both the Rangers and the Hurricanes can leapfrog them. Sabre Noise has a view on things from the other side.
The following night, it’s the Islanders aka The Team We ALWAYS Beat. Given how we’ve played lately, anything is possible. They have some talented youth, which has garnered some attention during the season. Michael Grabner will get some consideration for the Calder Trophy. I hope we can use this game as a confidence booster heading into the playoffs. We handled them pretty easily 2 weeks ago, and hopefully don’t hit any speed bumps this time around. Eyes on Isles can just dream about the future, and hope for a small moral victory tomorrow.
Both games are winnable. That’s a far cry from a few months ago when I would have laughed at the notion that either of these teams could beat us. But, these are the harsh realities of the times we live in. There are rumors that we’re playing possum, hoping to catch teams by surprise in the playoffs that might think we’ve completely lost it. I don’t buy that, but if that is the case, I hope it works.
The Plight of the Rangers
We all remember eliminating the Rangers in a shootout last year. It was the last game of the season, and each team held their destiny in their own hands. We came through, they went home. Looks like a bit of deja vu for New York this season. Last night, they played at Atlanta. Heading into the game, they had a 2 point cushion over Carolina. All they need in their final two games was to earn 3 points. Instead, they got shut out, 3-0 on their home ice. So now, they sit in 8th place, with 1 game left, and still a 2 point lead over the Hurricanes. Carolina has 2 games left, and hold a tiebreaker of the Rags. So, even if the Rangers win their final game, they can get knocked out if Carolina wins their last two.
To make things even better, imagine this dream ending. Carolina plays at Atlanta tonight, and gets the win. This ties them with the Rangers in points, but puts them ahead thanks to the tiebreaker. New York hosts the Devils tomorrow afternoon. The Devils now have new meaning to their season: a chance to eliminate their cross river rivals from the playoffs! If Rangers pull out the win, then the ‘Canes need to beat Lightning tomorrow night. If the Rangers lose, then Carolina relaxes in their final game, knowing a playoff spot is secure.
Lastly, I can’t mention last years shootout without posting a clip of it. Enjoy, wax nostalgic, and pray for a similar playoff run, with a better ending.
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Tags: Atlanta Thrashers Buffalo Sabres Calder Trophy Carolina Hurricanes Jhonas Enroth Maelstrom Michael Grabner New Jersey Devils New York Islanders New York Rangers Plight Of The Rangers Ryan Miller Sean Avery Shootout Tampa Bay Lightning Tomas Vanek