So it’s not quite official yet, but please remove those doubts and dark thoughts from your head. Yes, we will be in the playoffs this year, and a victory tonight at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo would cement that season-long dream, as we would officially have clinched a playoff spot. It won’t be easy, though. Despite a sea of red, white and blue often filling the Sabres home arena when our boys come to town, this is a Buffalo team that loves to see us stumble.
A new look roster, or so we’re lead to believe, will be hitting the ice tonight. Don’t expect to see anyone you haven’t seen before, but Joe Juneau, Steve Begin, and blueliner Patrice Brisebois all thought twice about making the trip to Buffalo, as all three stayed in Montreal in order to, in some cases, avoid spreading their ailments to the players.
Begin and Juneau have both been hit by the flu bug, while Brisebois battles an incredibly nagging groin injury. Stephane Quintal, who was being rested in the New Jersey home-and-home battle, could return to the lineup tonight, as could Andreas Dackell.
With any luck, Quintal will be reenergized after his break, as his slow legs could use a little bit more horsepower in them. A warrior at heart, he needs to be moving at all times in order to avoid being overpowered by the quick feet of some Sabre forwards.
In all likelihood, Alex Kovalev, who practiced on the teams’ top line with Richard Zednik and Saku Koivu will remain in that position for the entirety of tonight’s game. That’s good news for Habs fans, as at last Koivu and Kovalev, who are finally united, hopefully this time for a fair length of time.
And so, what about Zednik? Will having two players, that being Kovy and Zed who love the control the puck, be of any conflict? I guess we will find out in time, but all in all, it’s all about chemistry. If these three guys come together as we hope, expect quite the explosion of offence. After all, Kovalev has notched his first goal as a Hab, albeit an empty-netter, and it looks like he could potentially start hitting the score sheet at will.
Buffalo is one American city that seems to be constantly cold. Whatever you want, you got it. Be it the weather, the Bills, or the Sabres. Aside from the chicken wings, nothing seems to get to hot. A team as hot as ours could potentially bring some heat to the city, but who really cares if they start winning after tonight? Should the boys work hard and not coast in a style that we’ve all but forgotten, we’ll bring home the two points, while these Sabres will be pressing their rosy cheeks up against the glass, all but being on the outside looking in at the 2004 Postseason.