Red and Black Hockey
Entries with the tag: Buffalo Sabres
On Friday night, the Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in the home opener at First Niagara Center. They were poorly disciplined, but the special teams stood tall. They got shorthanded goals from alternate captain Brandon Sutter and newcomer Tim Brent. Defenseman Jay Harrison also scored a goal that was technically even strength, but it happened just as a penalty to Tyler Myers was elapsing. Initially it was declared a power play goal, but after a while, the ruling was changed and it was deemed even strength. Jeff Skinner added a power play goal late in the third.
Carolina had several excellent short-handed scoring chances in the game. In addition to the two shorthanded goals, Sutter hit a post, Eric Staal was stopped on a breakaway, and Ryan Miller made a couple of really good saves to keep his team in the game, even when they had a manpower advantage.
On Sunday, Carolina had a chance to put their destiny into their own hands. Regardless of the outcome of the Rangers/Flyers game, if the Canes had beaten Buffalo in regulation, they would have moved ahead of Buffalo and into the playoff mix. More importantly, they would have put themselves in a situation where they could control their own playoff destiny. Things didn’t go well. They went badly. Not catastrophically bad, but it wasn’t good.
The Rangers won their game in a shootout, and that hurts the Canes. However, t’s potentially an advantage to the Canes that it was a shootout win. Carolina lost their own game to Buffalo, 2-1 in overtime. The consolation point is small consolation, but it might actually play a huge role on the final day of the season.
Carolina now finds themselves two points behind the Rangers and three behind the Sabres with three games remaining for each team. Although it isn’t a mathematical impossibility, catching the Sabres is extraordinarily improbable at this point. To catch the Rangers, Carolina’s “magic number” is eight. Any number of points that the Rangers fail to earn and points that the Hurricanes earn totaling eight will catapult Carolina over NYR.
After a great week for the Hurricanes, they’ve climbed out of a hole and are in a position to climb as high as seventh place on Sunday afternoon. With four games to play, including the huge matchup with the Sabres on Sunday afternoon, there’s just two points separating seventh from ninth. Depending on the outcome of that game and the outcome of the game between the Rangers and Flyers, Carolina might be pushed hard against the wall or they might be in seventh. Or somewhere in between.
There are a lot of different scenarios that could play out tomorrow. Some of them involve tiebreakers from which Carolina would benefit. While Carolina and Buffalo will each have three games remaining after Sunday, they’re both looking at that game as the most important game of the season.
There are about two dozen scenarios with the two games, and I was gonna outline how each of them would impact the standings. but after about five scenarios, my head was swimming. I’ll simplify it.
A week ago tonight, I gave last
rites to the Hurricanes after their home loss to the Lightning. They were five points back of eighth place with a tough week ahead of them. Since then, all the Canes have done is win three straight games while Buffalo and the Rangers lost. Suddenly, the Canes are just one point behind the eighth place Rangers and very much revitalized. On Saturday, the Canes got another huge win on the road against a hot Islanders team.
Carolina was behind 2-1 after 40 minutes, and this was exactly where the Isles wanted to be. They’re the third hottest team in the league since Christmas and they’d only lost one regulation game all season when leading after two. Joe Corvo, Erik Cole and Eric Staal had plenty to say about that as they each scored in the third to give the Canes a 4-2 win. Corvo had three points on the night and Cole had another game-winner. He’s been Mr. Clutch in the second half and is looking more like the Cole we knew from before the injury.
As I write, the Caps have just forced overtime against the Sabres, so Buffalo will be at least two points ahead of Carolina going into tomorrow’s enormous matchup at the RBC Center.
On Wednesday night, the Hurricanes got a two huge standings points, and one of their few lopsided victories on the season. Rookie forward Jeff Skinner and rookie defenseman Jamie McBain each chipped in two goals to lead the way in a 6-2 pounding of the visiting Canadiens. Joni Pitkanen and Cory Stillman also scored for the Canes.
Meanwhile, at the HSBC Arena, the Sabres got a 1-0 shutout over the Rangers. This means that Carolina is still three points behind the Sabres (and now also three points behind the Rangers) with just five games to play. The Sabres have a slightly tougher road to hoe down the stretch, but the Canes can only concern themselves with their own games. The most important of the five remaining games is the home game against the Sabres on Sunday.
On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes got a boost to their slim playoff hopes, but there is an asterisk. The Sabres lost 4-3 in regulation to the Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes grabbed a huge 3-2 win on the road at Washington. This two-point gain puts Carolina just three points back of the Sabres, and Sunday’s showdown looks really huge right now. The only unfortunate thing is that Carolina’s win came via the shootout. Carolina has two fewer ROW wins than Buffalo, so as of right now, a potential standings tiebreaker would go to the Sabres.
Jussi Jokinen scored a power play marker in the second and Jeff Skinner scored a huge goal early in the third. In the shootout, Skinner scored in the top of the first. The Caps missed their first two shots, then Tuomo Ruutu iced it for the Canes with a successful shot in the top of the third.
Cam Ward made 38 saves to give him 2006 saves on the season. He’s just the sixth goaltender since the lockout to record more than 2000 saves in a single season.
At this point in the season, the Hurricanes have to view every game as a “must win” and they know that they are also going to need some outside help to get into the playoffs. They entered play Tuesday night three points behind the eighth place Sabres. The Canes held up their end of the deal with a 4-3 win over the visiting Senators.
Cam Ward made 36 saves and Chad Sharpie LaRose had two goals to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 third period lead. The Sens scored a late goal to make it a one-goal game, then they prevented Sharpie from completing the hat trick. The regulation win temporarily put the Canes just one point back of the Sabres, who were playing in Montréal, but the Canadiens didn’t do Carolina any favours. Buffalo ended up winning 2-0, maintaining their three point lead over Carolina.
Carolina will be off until Friday, when they will play a back-to-back home-and-home with Tampa. Buffalo’s schedule will be much lighter: a Friday/Saturday home set against Florida and New Jersey. In order to stay in contention, Carolina will have to win at least one of those Tampa games, and obviously they prefer to win both. New Jersey has run out of luck, out of steam and out of time. They’re not going to roll over for Buffalo, but they now know that their miraculous run is over and that they’re not going to make the playoffs.
On Friday night, the Hurricanes had to come from behind to beat the Islanders 3-2 in overtime. That gives them 76 standings points, and crucially, 29 “Regulation or Overtime Wins”. They are now tied with Buffalo in standings points and ROW, but the Sabres have two games in hand. Carolina is idle until Tuesday, when they will host the last place Senators. This weekend, the Sabres have home games against Atlanta and Nashville. The Canes players and fans are hoping that the Sabres lose both games in regulation. Carolina, by virtue of earning more points versus the Sabres (four) than the Sabres have earned against the Canes (three) would have the tiebreaker and would jump back into eighth place.
After the Senators game, the Canes have a back-to-back home-and-home with the Lightning, a road game in DC and a home game against the Habs. During that same stretch,the Sabres will play at Montréal, back-to-back home games against Florida and New Jersey and finally at Toronto. That stretch certainly plays in the Sabres favor, so the Canes will have to steal some points.
Once again, Cam Ward was great, and for the first time in a while, the Hurricanes showed some fight. When they were pushed against the ropes, down a goal late in the third, they answered back, forced overtime, and won it the way they needed to—during timed play.
On Tuesday night, the Hurricanes were in an absolute must win situation on the road in Buffalo. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but they got the job done with a 1-0 win to snap a four-game losing streak. It keeps their slim playoff hopes alive.
Brandon Sutter scored the game’s only goal at 19:18 of the first. Cam Ward made 40 saves including 22 in the first period alone.
With the win, Carolina closed to within two points of the eighth place Sabres with 12 games remaining. A regulation loss would have put them six points back, and it would have spelled the end of all realistic playoff hopes. It wasn’t all sweetness and light, though. While the Canes are thrilled to have gotten two points, they should be disgusted in their continued power play woes. They were 0-5 on the power play tonight. They have now gone six games without a power play marker. They’re zero for their last 27 on the man advantage, dating all the way back to March 1. This is not how a playoff team plays.
At the end of Thursday’s games, Carolina was in seventh place in the East with a tough game ahead of them and a few days off after that. On Friday, they got smoked in Chicago, and dropped to eighth because the Rangers won their game. Buffalo won back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday. The Rangers demolished the Flyers on Sunday. All of this means that the Rangers are in seventh, the Sabres in eighth and the Hurricanes are on the outside looking in.
Coach Paul Maurice said
“We had a terrible night yesterday and we didn’t play at all”.
On Thursday night at the RBC Center, the Hurricanes and Sabres played a playoff-style game that had huge implications for both squads. The Sabres twice had a one-goal lead in the second period, but each time, the Canes answered back. The game was knotted at two after 60 minutes, and it took a scant 26 seconds of overtime for the Canes to win it 3-2.
Rookie defenseman Jamie McBain tallied the game winner with a blast from the right point with a screen from Eric Staal in front of the goal. Ryan Miller never saw it. It was McBain’s fifth goal of the season and his second career overtime game-winner.
It was a sweet win for the home team, and to make matters even better, the Rangers lost in regulation. This means that Carolina has 71 points and the Rangers 70. Carolina is now in seventh place and still holds a game in hand against the eighth place Rangers. The Canes would have preferred to have gotten this thing done in regulation to create some space between themselves and Buffalo, but the most important thing is that they got the two points.
On Saturday night, Carolina went to la belle province, where they have had success in the past. They didn’t have success tonight, falling 4-3 in regulation. It looked like the Canes were going to earn at least a point, but Andrei Kostitsyn scored the game-winning goal at 16:07. Meanwhile, the Sabres earned one point in a shootout loss to the Red Wings. Now, the Sabres are just two points behind the Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the east, with two games in hand. The only saving grace there is that the Sabres had a lead in their game with less than a minute to play, but gave it away and only earned the single point. Watching the post-game interviews, neither Ryan Miller nor Lindy Ruff was happy with the single point.
For about the millionth time in a row, Carolina’s power play was an area of concern. They were 0-4 on the power play, including a four minute double minor. On the other side, Carolina was only penalized once and les Habitants cashed in with the game-winner in that scenario.
On Thursday, the Hurricanes lost 2-1 in Philadelphia. Both Flyers goals were third period power play markers and Carolina’s lone goal was off the stick of Tuomo Ruutu.
Carolina hadn’t given up a power play goal since January 24—six games ago.
Cam Ward didn’t have the best of nights. While Danny Briere’s game-winning goal was a very good one, Jeff Carter’s was a bit soft. Ward actually made the stop, but couldn’t control the puck. It fluttered in off his glove for the first goal of the game 18 seconds into the third frame. Ward only made 23 stops and gave up one bad one.
On the other end, Brian Boucher was really good in making 31 saves, including 15 in the third period.
Carolina’s hopes for playoff hockey dates came to an end on Saturday with a listless 4-0 loss against the New Jersey Devils. There really wasn’t anything worth being happy about as a Canes fan watching that game. They were already done a long time ago, and were needing a miracle. In the end, Carolina’s efforts may have been for naught anyway because they still needed A LOT of outside help. It’s inappropriate, I think, to point fingers at this game and say “this is the one that kept us out of the playoffs”. Sure, it was the final nail in the coffin, but it’s not a one-nail coffin. If fans want to point fingers, they can do it not at any one game in particular, but the fourteen game winless streak early in the season.
While the Canes players will be arranging tee times for this spring, Canes fans will have to follow the Albany River Rats in the Calder Cup playoffs. We’ll also have to choose NHL teams to root for in the Stanley Cup playoffs. My selection isn’t a popular one amongst my Caniac brethren, but I’m not ashamed of it.
The Hurricanes started this week with a four game win streak and were about to embark on a four game road trip. The Oilers and Flames showed the Canes what the Alberta Advantage is, then the boys flew across the continent to New York for a back-to-back at Buffalo and Long Island.
Cam Ward was added to the list of injured players and Manny Legace got the start in nets. He picked up a 4-3 win against Ryan Miller, who did not perform well. He allowed a couple of uncharacteristically soft goals including the game winner from Jussi Jokinen. One that he saw all the way, but didn’t stop. No traffic, no screen, no re-direction. Nothing. Hopefully it was just a hiccup and not a sign of things to come for Ryan Miller. I say this with reference to his role on team USA for the upcoming Olympic games.
Eric Staal continued his pace, picking up a goal and an assist to stretch his points scoring streak to 11 games. He’s recorded 14 (10/4) points in nine games since being named captain of the team.
On Saturday night, the Hurricanes stuck with their game plan from the previous game, and the result obviously wasn’t good. Carolina had a tenuous 1-0 lead going into the third period, but Ryan Miller was playing an absolutely other-worldly game. Something didn’t feel right about it, and it didn’t take long for the third to be all Sabres.
Matt Cullen converted a horrible turnover by Tyler Myers into a goal early in the first, but after that it was all about #30. He made save after remarkable save to keep it 1-0. And for the first two periods, Michael Leighton was on point at the other end of the ice. There was no scoring in the second period, as both netminders were up to the task. For the second time in as many nights, though, the Canes surrendered five goals in the final frame.
For a Sabre-centric view of the game, I recommend BFLOblog. I’m not really equipped to look at this game in a level-headed manner, but after the jump, there’s some angry commentary.
On Thursday night, the Sabres ended the Hurricanes incredibly hot streaks with a crushing 5-1 win. Carolna’s twelve game home winning streak and their nine game overall winning streak were snapped. Cam Ward also lost his first game in a long while and Michael Leighton appeared in a game for the first time since beating the Sharks on February 5.
While Buffalo was the team who traveled overnight (through customs, no less!) and was playing the back end of a back-to-back, they looked like the sharper team. All night.
The population of Pominville was increased by two as Jason Pominville scored two goals and first star status.
Ryan Miller was razor-sharp, stopping everything the Canes threw at him. He took a shutout all the way to the final 30 seconds of play, but Eric Staal spoiled his fun by potting his 40th of the season.
On Thursday night, the Hurricanes will play their final home game of the season. Their opponent will be the Sabres, who have a lot to play for tonight. Carolina is fighting to get to fourth place, and they’re trying to set a new franchise record with a tenth consecutive win and a thirteenth straight home win.
Weeks ago, I predicted that this game would be “epic” in proportions. At the beginning of March, I figured that both teams would be scratching and clawing just to get in the playoffs and that the winner of this game would determine that eighth spot. Even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have forseen the run they’ve been on. Buffalo is indeed fighting for that last spot. They will also need outside help.
I’ve just taken a couple of days away from the blog, as I am forced to do twice a year when work puts everything else on hold for an entire weekend. Now, back to the hockey business.
Carolina has eleven games remaining and they are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot. Both Florida and Buffalo, who are chasing, have games in hand and could easily catch the Canes. There is a possibility that the Rangers or even Montréal could collapse down the stretch and fall out of the race. However, Carolina should keep their focus on taking care of their own business.
I figure they’ll need 95 points to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, which means they’ll have to earn 16 out of 22 points down the stretch. 7-2-2. 8-3-0. 6-1-4. Whatever. They may be able to do it with 93, but either way, it’s going to be tough. They’re going to have to win, and it isn’t going to be easy. Of their 11 remaining games, three are against the Devils, and two of those are in the swamp. They will have home games against playoff teams Washington, Rangers and the smokin’ hot Penguins. Sure, they have two home games against the lowly Islanders, but that doesn’t do much to soften the blow of having to play three against the Devils.
Carolina is, without a doubt, going to have to “steal” some of their final games and they won’t be able to give any away.
One night after looking like the worst team in hockey, the Hurricanes came out and got an impressive and crucial road win by shutting out the Sabres 3-0.
Eric Staal was a one-man wrecking crew in the first period. He scored a power play goal by grabbing a puck out of the air, gloving it legally to himself, then firing a shot from the high slot. It hit a Buffalo player on the way in and got past Miller.
Later, with a delayed penalty in hand, Staal worked his way through a trio of matadors and fired a shot from the low slot off Miller. Chad LaRose pounced on the rebound to make it 2-0. Staal had the primary assist and Anton Babchuk got the other.
As bad as Carolina looked in the previous two games, they came out with a ton of jump in the first period and set the tone of the game.
After two very disappointing home losses, Carolina will venture back on the road for a 6:00 game in Buffalo. The Sabres are currently in eighth place with 64 points while Carolina is in ninth with 59. With the mighty Bruins coming to town on Tuesday, it is absolutely essential to get a win tonight.
While Carolina is five points out of eighth, they’re just eight points behind fourth place Philadelphia, but would find themselves in tenth place behind Pittsburgh if they lose in regulation. Meanwhile, a win would give the Canes some excellent momentum heading into Glen Wesley night on Tuesday. Following that is a six game sequence during which Carolina should get at least eight points.
Last night was devastating. Not just because of the loss, but the way they looked for two games in a row. There is a bit of encouraging news, though. In nine back-to-back situations this season, Carolina has put up a 7-2-0 mark on the back end. However, Carolina hasn’t won at the HSBC Center since game 4 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Final.
Starting tonight, Carolina will have a tough three-game stretch that may go a long way towards determining their postseason fate. With just 27 games remaining, they’re all important, but I get the feeling that unless Carolina secures three or more points in the next three games, it’s going to be another spring of tee times and family vacations.
Tonight, Carolina will wear their third sweaters against the Blue Jackets. Columbus is in almost the same situation that Carolina is in. The teams have identical records and both sit in ninth place with 59 points. However, Carolina has a tougher climb to get inside the bubble. The Jackets are three points out of climbing all the way to fifth place, Carolina is six points out of a playoff spot at all.
Columbus won last night at home against Detroit. While they are playing the back end of a back-to-back, Carolina is on the front end. They’ll head to Buffalo tomorrow for a big matchup that Carolina will need to win.
As we hit the all-star break, it’s about time to start seriously thinking about the playoff picture. In the East, it’s clear that Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Montréal, Rangers and Philadelphia will be there. As of today, Buffalo and Carolina are in, while Florida and Pittsburgh are just barely on the outside of that playoff bubble.
While Toronto and Tampa are less than ten points out of a spot as of today, I don’t think they’ll be contenders come April. After viewing the remaining schedules for the four teams I figure to be the last contenders, I’m predicting that the final two spots will be held by Pittsburgh and Carolina.
I’ll start with Buffalo, currently in seventh, and work my way down to the tenth place Penguins.
On Saturday, the Hurricanes will be visiting Buffalo for the first time this season. I won’t be able to watch because I have a family commitment, but I’ll DVR the game for later viewing. This is a new rivalry that was pretty much born in the 2006 Eastern Conference finals. Since then, Canes fans and Sabres fans have pretty much been at each others’ throats.
Some folks down here treat Carolina-Buffalo like it’s Duke and UNC. It’s all about hate.
This is a very unfashionable thing to say, but the truth of the matter is that I don’t hate Buffalo. I don’t even dislike Buffalo. I tried to buy into that system. I even partook of the Hatorade briefly, but it never felt right. While other Canes fans will swear up and down that every Sabres fan is the spawn of Mephistopheles and so on and so forth, I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Sabres fans. I kinda liked the Sabres before this whole thing started, and I still kinda like them.
The paragraphs below will explain. The anecdotes are related to hockey, but are mostly about personal stuff.