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NHL on NBCSN: Hawks know they can’t take Sabres lightly

Mar 9, 2014, 9:48 AM EST

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Cody Hodgson #19 of the Buffalo Sabres skate up the ice during the NHL game on October 12, 2013 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Getty Images

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Chicago Blackhawks at the First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

On paper this is an obvious mismatch. The Sabres were the league’s worst team even before they traded away Ryan Miller, Steve Ott, Matt Moulson, and Brayden McNabb and they’re up against a Blackhawks squad that they haven’t beaten since Dec. 11, 2009.

At the same time, Buffalo has managed to post a 4-2-0 record since the Olympic break. That’s due in large part to goalie Jhonas Enroth, who has a 2.00 GAA and .950 save percentage in three games following the Miller trade. They’ve also leaned on defenseman Tyler Myers, who has six points in five contests.

There’s no question that the Blackhawks are still the heavy favorites to win tonight, but they can’t take Buffalo lightly either.

“We have to be respectful,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “We approached the Columbus game the right way and have to have the same type of attitude going into tomorrow’s game. When you look at the standings, what’s at stake, every game will have some meaning.”

In Chicago’s case, the Central Division title is what’s still at stake. Now that the St. Louis Blues have Miller, they’ve opened up a four-point lead on the Blackhawks despite having played in one less contest. They also have to be weary of the third place Colorado Avalanche, which are just one point shy of them.

Just as important for Chicago though is finding motivation to maintain a high level of play now that its playoff spot is all-but secured. The Blackhawks did a great job last season when it came to competing hard until the end of the regular season despite the fact that they realistically could have just coasted after getting off to a 21-0-3 start and probably still ended up with a high seed.

Instead they were able to carry that momentum all the way into the playoffs and use it to propel them to a Stanley Cup championship.

So while there’s no question that Chicago can survive no matter what happens tonight, this would still be a terrible time to start easing up against opponents they should be beating.

  1. thomasvanek - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Tyler Myers has 6 points in 5 contests by the way.

  2. thomasvanek - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:12 AM

    The only way the Sabres would have had a chance tonight is if they were 100% healthy, but with Girgensons, Stewart, and Mitchell hurt things aren’t looking too good for us.

    • hawksin5 - Mar 9, 2014 at 5:51 PM

      even if those guys were healthy, the hawks are still WAY too fast.

      • thomasvanek - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        That is true, but I’m saying there would have been like a 10% chance. Now it’s about 3%.

  3. patshal - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    This IS a total mismatch. Why the hell is this on nbcsn . No one wants to watch it. I don’t know about you but I want to watch interesting games. This is not interesting. It’s so obvious.

  4. bwana63 - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    “weary”, “miss match”??? Ugh. Late night?

  5. lowenni - Mar 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM

    Why are there so many Sabres games on NBC???

    • timmyp716 - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      because despite a bad product on the ice, the buffalo area supports nbc hockey with the most viewers in the country……its a ratings thing

  6. jpat2424 - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Why not

  7. desertdwlr - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    SABRES——-EN FUEGO

  8. dwwlax - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    It’s funny how ppl said buff was going to get blown out but in reality they got screwed continuously by the refs . Should of gone to ot , Cody gets clearly tripped throws puck to net, Ennis makes great play n scores n the end result is no penalty for tripping Cody but instead a phantom slash on Ennis n no goal. Refs are horrible in this league

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