Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Buffalo Sabres – The Final Countdown


The Pittsburgh Penguins are facing the last place Buffalo Sabres in what is basically a must-win for the Pens. While they could still sneak into the playoffs with a loss, not beating Buffalo means hoping that the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Boston Bruins tonight.

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The Penguins had the ability to solidify their spot in the playoffs last night against the New York Islanders, but fell to their division rival 3-1. It’s important that this team is able to put their recent struggles behind them and simply beat the worst team in hockey.

The Buffalo Sabres were able to complete their season-long tank job and clinch last place in a loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. So, the Penguins have to expect a team that wants to go out on a good note and win their last home game of the season. That being said, Buffalo is still a really bad hockey team. There is no reason the Pittsburgh Penguins should lose this and have to rely on Tampa Bay to beat Boston.

Players to Watch – Buffalo
I’m not going to pretend there’s a Buffalo Sabre out there that’s extremely dangerous and likely to take control of this game. One guy to keep an eye on is Tyler Ennis, the small-statured Forward that has now put together two consecutive 20-goal seasons with the dismal Sabres. I will say this, however. An inspired team that wants to win one at home before embarking on golf trips and preparing for Connor McDavid could be dangerous for the struggling, less inspired Pittsburgh Penguins.

Players to Watch – Pittsburgh
Sidney Crosby – On a team that is playing as poorly as the Penguins, Crosby is basically a player to watch every game as he continues his strong play. Add the fact that he absolutely terrorizes Buffalo on a regular basis and you have the makings of a multiple point night for the Captain.

The entire Penguins Offense – The Buffalo Sabres are 27th in the league in goals-against per 60 minutes. They’re last in the league in shots-against per 60 minutes. You know those possession numbers like corsi that guys like me talk about a lot? You guessed it, last in the league. If ever there was a game in which this team could put up some big numbers this is it.

Keys to the Game
There’s no secret here. The key to beating Buffalo is to strike early and often, and don’t let off the gas. I don’t believe that a group of athlete’s ever enters an arena with a willingness to lose, but lucky for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Management staff in Buffalo has made it really hard for them to win. As Dan Bylsma would say, get to your game.

Pittsburgh cancelled their morning skate in Buffalo today.  There are no changes to lineup and lines are likely to be similar to what we saw the past two games.

Tonight should be an easy tilt for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But, considering the recent play of Pittsburgh, will it be?

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