Some Buffalo Sabres are getting some time off prior to the
postseason. They can rest assured that their first-round opponent
won’t be the Ottawa Senators.
The Sabres will likely sit some of their top players again as
they try to snap a nine-game losing streak against the Senators,
who are playing their season finale Saturday night just hours after
announcing Alex Kovalev will miss the playoffs.
With the Northeast Division title wrapped up, Buffalo (44-26-10)
gave its banged-up players a break in a 3-1 loss to Boston on
The Sabres are one point behind New Jersey for second place in
the Eastern Conference, but they have decided the extra rest for
the players might be worth more than trying to secure a higher
“It’s tough. You’re playing with different guys every night,
guys are switching during games,” center Derek Roy said. “We’ve got
to get healthy for the playoffs. We need everybody. We need this
Patrick Lalime played with the flu so No. 1 goalie Ryan Miller
could rest. The Sabres were also without leading scorer Tim
Connolly (foot), No. 4 scorer Thomas Vanek (unspecified injury) and
defenseman Craig Rivet (flu).
Ottawa (44-31-6) was short-handed in its last matchup with
Buffalo, but that didn’t stop it from extending its run in the
series with a 4-2 victory March 26. The Senators were without
Kovalev and Milan Michalek due to injuries as they improved to
25-6-4 against the Sabres since the start of 2005-06.
Kovalev, fourth on the team with 49 points, suffered a torn ACL
in his left knee during a 4-3 shootout loss to Tampa Bay on
Ottawa, which will finish in fifth place in the East, will face
Pittsburgh or New Jersey in the first round. Buffalo’s playoff
opponent remains uncertain.
A secured playoff spot has given Ottawa an opportunity to rest
The Senators, though, continue to play hard, going 7-1-1 in
their last nine. Ottawa trailed 3-0 before losing Thursday
“It was nice to see us battle back in a game that doesn’t mean
anything for us,” captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “We showed some
The Senators were able to give defenseman Jared Cowen, their
2009 first-round pick, his league debut. With Anton Volchenkov
getting the night off, the 19-year-old Cowen saw nearly 7 minutes
of ice time.
Defenseman Tyler Myers continues to play a crucial role in the
Sabres’ success. Myers, the 12th overall pick in 2008, appears to
be the front-runner for the Calder Trophy given to the NHL rookie
of the year.
“It’s hard not to hear those whispers about the Calder and what
not,” Myers said. “You take it all in, but at the end of the day,
you just have to focus on what you have to do here with the team.
And I think I’ve done that for the most part.”
Myers has 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) to lead all Sabres
defensemen and ranks fifth on the team overall. Myers, though, has
been held without a point in five games against the Senators.