It’s no secret that the Sabres and Bruins dislike each other. Sabres fans boo Boston Captain Zdeno Chara every time he touches the puck and Bruins fans like nothing better than beating Buffalo. Last time these two teams met, Buffalo trounced the Northeast division-leading Bruins in a 6-0 victory. It was a win that, if the Sabres are to rally and make the playoffs, could be seen as a turning point in the season.
Tomorrow night’s game is just as important for both teams; Boston is trying to put some room between themselves and the Ottawa Senators, who are only two points behind the Bruins in the division, and Buffalo is still attempting to erase a miserable early season funk and gain some ground on a playoff spot. There is good news and bad news for the Sabres. Last night, Toronto lost 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks, meaning that Buffalo still remains six points behind the Maple Leafs with a game in hand. However, the Winnipeg Jets, another team ahead of Buffalo in the standings, took care of the Lightning yesterday, meaning that they matched Toronto with 65 points in the standings. Luckily, Buffalo holds two games in hand on the Jets, which will make catching them in the standings a bit easier.
There’s no doubt that tonight’s game against Boston is a game with major implications for the Sabres, so players should need no more motivation, but just in case they wanted some, Brad Marchand was happy to oblige. Taking a page out of Tom Brady’s book, Marchand took a serious shot at the city of Buffalo. Thursday morning, Marchand was a guest on Boston’s WEEI sports radio network, and was quoted as saying, “Yeah, Buffalo would be the worst place in the NHL, so I’m not too excited to go there, but I’ll be pretty excited to leave.”
Ouch. When asked to clarify if he was saying that Buffalo is the worst city in the NHL, Marchand responded, “Yeah, it’s one of them. It’s up there.” Sheesh. At least Tom Brady only had beef with Buffalo’s hotels. On a more serious note though, what kind of message does this send to the players and fans of the city of Buffalo? It’s the second time that a barb like this has been directed at Buffalo in the media recently, and as a fan, it’s getting old quick. It is one thing to insult a certain player on a roster, but when you criticize an entire community and the place that people call home, it gets pretty serious. Marchand should have just kept his mouth shut; this is a pretty sensitive issue In Buffalo sports right now, and with the stakes already high for the Sabres in tomorrow night’s game, there is going to be a target on his back as well as on his teammates.
Buffalo just needs to make sure that they don’t exhaust their emotions in tomorrow night’s game. Sure, the second place Bruins will be a tough out, but even they will admit that the New York Rangers are the cream of the crop in the Eastern conference. With 81 points, the Rangers are easily the best squad the east has to offer, and they hold a 19-7-2 record at home; Buffalo will have to travel to New York following the Bruins game and try to gain an elusive road win in a difficult and hostile Madison Square Gaden. If they can win those two games, the playoffs will be a much more realistic possibility, but for now, Buffalo needs to take things one at a time and focus on beating Marchand and the big bad Bruins and show them how the city of Buffalo responds to being insulted.