Preview: Winnipeg Jets take another stab at a playoff spot, host the Buffalo Sabres

Dave Sandford

In game two of this pivotal six-game home-stand, the Jets look to take advantage of another team below them in the standings. However, the Sabres are only two points back of Winnipeg so the game is of the utmost importance to both squads.

Game Preview:

Ed. Note: If you like the witty headline, credit Ryan Blight. The guy is a pun wizard. Apologies in advance for the worst preview you'll ever read.

As you prepare for tonight's epic battle between two middling Eastern Conference foes, make sure you've taken your antacids since you'll need them to stomach what you're about to watch. The Winnipeg Jets are hosting the Buffalo Sabres in a battle of two teams who very much want to but very likely won't make the 2013 postseason due to an array of deficiencies. Neither team scores that often or has any secondary scoring to speak of. Both teams have struggled defensively (and in net). Topping it off, both teams possess some of the NHL's worst special teams units in power plays which rank 29th and 30th respectively in the NHL.

But for just short of three hours tonight, we'll crack some beers and grit our teeth trying our best to follow a not-so-epic battle for tenth place.

Now, don't let my prognostications get you down; there is still plenty to be optimistic about if you're a Winnipeg Jets fan. Six of their eight remaining games are set to take place at the MTS Centre against an overall schedule strength of .423, more than .100 points fewer than the Washington Capitals, who have meetings with the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins in their near future.

But right now, all focus must be directed towards a costly two points tonight where the Jets' face-off with an upstart Sabres' team that recently handed the Pittsburgh Penguins their first loss in sixteen games before rattling off two more wins against the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils. Their 8-10-3 road record leaves plenty to be desired and this match-up is one the Jets' should be expected to win.

But since we've grown to "expect the unexpected" with our little team on the prairies, it's anyone's guess how tonight plays out.

Keys to the Game:

Winnipeg Jets

Expect the unexpected: Paul Friesen coined it in his Saturday article and I couldn't agree more. After a 4-1 beat-down on the Philadelphia Flyers, who knows which Jets' team will show up tonight. If they have any aspiration of making the post-season, they need to play well enough to earn two points.

First to three: Make no mistake, tonight's game has all the makings of being an aesthetic nightmare. Both teams are underwhelming offensively, woeful defensively, and possess terrible special teams units, so you might want to find some alternate programming at some point.

Byfuglien's reigns: Stapled to the bench for the final minutes of Winnipeg's 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, it seemed that Claude Noel was trying to teach Dustin Byfuglien a lesson fit for Alexander Burmistrov. His encore Saturday was to play Big Buff for only 17:48 in TOI, giving over 25 minutes to Zach Bogosian. Will Byfuglien continue to have his minutes managed?

Buffalo Sabres

No quit, coach!: Though they essentially have to go 7-1-1 down the stretch, the Sabres aren't yet mathematically eliminated. Now on their final legs, desperate hockey continues this evening for Buffalo.

Silver medal: What better way to get revenge on a jeering crowd than to thwart the Jets in a game they absolutely need? Ryan Miller has that opportunity tonight.

Moving out of Pominville: Despite trading their former captain, the Sabres have won both their games since the transaction, led by their bottom-six. If they can get the likes of Cody Hodgson, Thomas Vanek and Steve Ott rolling, the wins should continue to pile up for the Sabres.

Player to boo mercilessly:

Your 2010 Olympic silver medalist, Ryan Miller. Steve Ott, since he loves it.

Prediction:

Winnipeg 3

Buffalo 2 - F

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