With a yawning net and a diving goalie, Thomas Vanek blasted home the empty net goal to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the two extra points, the Sabres move one step closer to clinching a playoff birth for the second straight season, and the fourth time since the lockout.
A back and forth game for most, yet defensive at times as well, Buffalo played a smart game and got another great start from backup goalie Jhonas Enroth. Thomas Vanek had a hat-trick on the night, smoking the Lightning like he routinely does every year. If there was a ranking of players that own one team over the course of their careers, Thomas Vanek’s masterful 22 goals in 24 games against Tampa Bay would be right up there. Thomas, we bow before you, hoping you wont smite us like the other big guy who could tame lightning so well.
So, the title of this blog post? While technically and mathematically the Sabres have not clinched a playoff spot, for all intents and purpose, they’re in. The win by Buffalo immediately sent the Leafs to the tee boxes and their fans into hibernation until fall rolls around again. Or to a Blue Jays game if they must watch some type sporting event during the break. Carolina plays Detroit tomorrow night and must win in order to keep their Virginia Slim hopes alive. Anything less than 2 points by the Canes and they’re done. Get R Done, even. Well, maybe not that kinda done.
In the end, by tomorrow night, there’s a good chance the Sabres will be a lock for the postseason and fighting for 6th overall in the Eastern Conference. Quite a turn around from last fall, which I’m sure most of you are all aware of. The relief that could wave over the Sabres players and their fans tomorrow is practically palpable, and we’ll all be score board watching in giddy anticipation of the second season.
Overall, tonight’s game was another great showing by a team that’s been on roll since the new year. The Sabres have been one of the hottest teams in 2011, and that’s the best way to head into the playoffs. Neither Philly, or Washington, or Boston is going to want to play the Sabres in the first round. I’d get into more about the possible match ups, but that’s at least worth at least two or three more posts.
I’ll leave it here for tonight, and hope you enjoyed the first legit write-up on Nickel City, NYC. Unfortunately I’ll be out-of-town this weekend and wont be catching either of the games, -how dare you!- but should be able to watch them on Sunday and do some sort of recap then. Although, if Detroit does Buffalo a huge solid tomorrow night, any recaps on Sunday will just look like:
WOO! SABRES IN THE PLAYOFFS! WOO!