The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 01/29/15 at 04:43 PM ET
The McEichel Bowl is upon us.
Buffalo is in Edmonton tonight as the two worst teams in the NHL meet in what is being hyped as a monumental game for both teams, for no other reason than finishing 30th in the standings guarantees you Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the draft.
But for those who still don't get it, this isn't about the players on the ice. There's a difference between not trying and not being good enough. It's difficult not to cringe every time a reporter asks a guy like Josh Gorges or Ben Scrivens about the theory of throwing games. Players will bite your head off and lecture about pride until they're blue in the face. In the process, they'll even take a shot at fans who want them to lose.
Which leads to something interesting to look for tonight. If these players are half as angry as they seem when questioned about tanking, should this not be their golden opportunity to throw it back in everyone's faces?
Should this not be the biggest, compete-level-on-tilt barnburner of the season for both of these teams?
Many in the Buffalo and Edmonton media are saying a lot about the importance of this game, as if a four-point lead for 29th place with 33 games left would really decide anything.
But they can't be blamed for that, because the fans are all over it. The pulse of this game revolves around two young players not yet in the league but expected to be superstars. And the second-last team in the standings will only have a one in three chance of getting one of them.
Still, you won't be seeing players intentionally putting pucks into their own net or goalies taking selfies during breakaways. Many of these guys are playing for contracts and couldn't care less who plays on their team next season.
But despite the reality that a lot of hockey has yet to be played after tonight, there is something very defining and almost symbolic about this game. Sabres fans have reason to believe their team is the worst, and tonight is meant to be official confirmation. Many Oilers fans would be thrilled with an upset loss so they can validate their sense of belonging in the McEichel race.
As for the Sabres and Oilers players? Each one of them is part of a team that has sunk to such a low level of embarrassment that the majority of their own fans want them to lose. If they have even half as much pride as they say, they'll treat this like the game of their lives.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: email@example.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]