The stomach ached in protest as I woke up this morning. It may have been the late night vegan burrito, but it is more likely a result of tonight’s pending Canes game against the Buffalo Sabres. Canes need to do some serious push’in for some cushion.
The 9th seed Sabres are breathing down Carolina’s neck as they battle for the 8th, and final, spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Buffalo trails by a mere two points. Translation: Sabres could tie the Canes tonight at the RBC Center.
Canes are coming off a win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and will be playing in their deafening home turf arena.
A healthy Eric Staal agrees, “It’s exciting. There’s going to be a lot of energy in the building. It’s always a great team to play against in this building.”
Unfortunately, the Sabres have some good things going for them as well. They are 7-1 in their last eight road games. Their last game was a win against the New York Rangers, 3-2. The Rangers currently sit in 7th spot with a one-point lead over Carolina in the playoff standings.
Their new, passionate owner has also been fueling the Buffalo team with positive karma. Terry Pegula officially gained the franchise on February 18th.
Sabres acquired Brad Boyes and the right winger scored the first night with his new team against the Rangers.
“So they’ve got two offensive lines and have added Boyes. Good shutdown line. Then a nice, big physical kind of grinding fourth line,” comments Paul Maurice.
However, Sabres lead scorer is sore from an ankle injury on Tuesday. Thomas Vanek has made it clear he does not intend to miss the game with the Sabres’ 2006 rivals at such a crucial time.
The goalie showdown is yet another reason to swallow chalky antacids. #30 Cam Ward faces off against #30 Ryan Miller. Former Conn Smythe Trophy winner against former Vezina Trophy winner. Big guys in front of the net, with big wins under their belt. Ward will start in his 24th consecutive contest this evening. Consequently, he was given a pass at yesterday’s practice.
“It’s something we have tried to alter a little bit. Some of it is based on how he feels, kind of the green light when he feels he needs to be on the ice,” explained Maurice.
Caniac Nation hopes to channel Game 7 of the ’06 Eastern Conference finals in hopes of repeating history in tonight’s match-up. Let the heartburn commence!