'Coaches might not do that, but hockey analysts do, and Melrose said anybody in the East can emerge as the favorites to play in the conference finals. Pittsburgh and Atlanta are playing as well as anyone, and he's hesitant to label Buffalo the favorite anymore. "It's not where you finish, it's how you're playing going into the playoffs," he said. "You have Buffalo who has basically been in first place all year — they're going to play a team who has been in playoff mode for 20 games. … You saw that happen last year when Edmonton beat Detroit. That's why upsets happen."'
Archives for March 17, 2007
'A playoff spot is clinched when no more than 7 teams can pass the Sabres. Right now, 8 teams fit that description. (Carolina can catch up in points but loses on the first tiebreaker, which is "wins.")'
'Pominville has 31 goals this season, joining Chris Drury (35) and Thomas Vanek (34) in the 30-goal club. It’s only a matter of time before Briere (29) gains membership.'
‘Although plus-minus stats for individual players can be a bit misleading, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff says it’s a fair representation of the strides Vanek has made since last season, when he was a minus-11. “I think it’s a stat that you can use,” Ruff said. “His play away from the puck has been a lot better. It’s part of his progression.”‘
Lightning Get A Cool Reception (Tampa Tribune)
Smaby Called Up; Lecavalier Sets Record (Tampa Tribune)
Lightning returns home to disappointment (St. Petersburg Times)
Lecavalier sets points record for franchise (St. Petersburg Times)
Lightning return home but get stopped by Sabres, 3-2 (TampaBayLightning.com)
‘”Today certainly felt like a playoff game with the atmosphere and intensity,” Sabres center Chris Drury said. “We’re also fighting for position so it’s not like we’re just coasting in here. Every point is huge for us and we want to finish absolutely as high as we can.”‘
‘The Lightning made it a one-goal game 4:38 into the final stanza when Lecavalier threw a backhand pass from the right side that went off the stick of a Buffalo defender and into the net for his league-leading 48th goal of the season. However, Tampa Bay, despite having a pair of power plays in the third, was unable to net the equalizer and Buffalo held on for the win.’
‘With the win, the Sabres clinch a spot in the playoffs.’
‘”When you have a two goal lead, you kind of turn it down a notch,” said head coach Lindy Ruff. “You don’t want your d joining and creating opportunities where if you miss you’re going to give up an opportunity and let them back in the game. So we did slow it down, but when it got 3-2, we went after it again.”‘
‘With their goaltending shining for the second consecutive contest, Buffalo’s offense hit the high-speed lane in a game that resembled a track meet between two counterattacking rosters, ready to pounce on every turnover.’