We’ve got an old fashioned duel in Raleigh today.
The Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Rangers all have just 4 games left to stake their claim on the post season. Someone is going to miss out. The current standings:
The Rangers’ remaining schedule:
- At Philadelphia
- At Atlanta
- Tampa Bay
- At Carolina
- Tampa Bay
- At Columbus
The remaining schedule is remarkably even between the three teams, with shared opponents such as Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Atlanta between them – but one game stands out more than all the rest.
Today, the Hurricanes and the Sabres face off for an early 5pm game in Raleigh, in a game that will turn the fortune one way or the other for both clubs. Both teams are travelling to the early start – the Sabres from Washington, and the Hurricanes from Long Island. Fair enough.
Here’s how all the scenarios play out:
- If the Sabres lose in regulation, they would be tied in points with the Hurricanes but behind them in the standings. Both teams would be 39-30-10. With 34 non-shootout wins apiece, the next determining factor would be the head-to-head tally. Carolina would hold a 2-1-1 edge over Buffalo.
- If the Rangers lose in regulation, the Hurricanes would pass them too – putting the Canes in 7th, the Sabres in 8th, and the Rangers on the outside looking confused in 9th.
- A Rangers victory combined with a Hurricanes victory puts the Sabres out of the top 8.
Indeed, 9th place is up for grabs. Bottom line: the Sabres must win, or at least gain one point.
Carolina has been on a roll, since, well since they beat Buffalo back on March 15. Their 1-0 defeat of the Sabres in that game started a remarkable 6-1-0 run that has set up today’s ominous duel.
Well, if it was the Sabres that let these dogs loose, then it is poetic justice that they be given a chance to put them down. If Buffalo ends Carolina’s streak today, the Canes will have to try to come back from a widened deficit of 2-3 points – and their first task will be to defeat the Detroit Red Wings. The Sabres are staring at Tampa and Philly up next on their schedule.
Indeed, there will be a very slim chance for recovery for the team that takes the bullet today. The team that takes this heated contest will likely be skating in the post season, while the team that takes the bullet will be left for dead on the ground.