Sabres working to keep emotions in check with playoff spot hanging in the balance

Buffalo Sabres

Standing at his stall following the Sabres’ 5-4 shootuot win over Minnesota on Tuesday, Evan Rodrigues seemed stunned to find out Buffalo hadn’t won two straight games since mid-December.

“I did not know that,” he said.  “Obviosusly, that’s not a good stat.  That was one of our keys early on in the year, was to string wins together.  It’s going to be huge for us, especially on this homestand.  We need wins.  It’s a tight race and we have to find a way to win.  And now we have to get on a roll here.”

The Sabres, who in late November were the best team in the NHL, have gone from first place in the standings to now battling to secure one of the final wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.

And, if there is one thing the Blue & Gold have admittedly struggled with since their 10-game winning streak ended, it’s their emotions.  In their own words, they get too high after wins and too low after losses.

With a playoff berth hanging in the balance, they know the importance of staying even-keeled.

“We can’t be lackadaisical in practice. We have to make sure we’re engaged and ready to give our best effort and that we’re mentally engaged,” said Rodrigues.  “Even in games, when we get lackadaisical and sit back, that’s when we tend to struggle.  We have to be engaged (in practice on Wednesday) and be ready to go and have a quick start on Thursday.”

“I think that’s been a big focus on us this year,” added winger Sam Reinhart.  “I think earlier in the year we did a really good job of it. It’s always easier when you’re winning games but when you’re going through a stretch like we have, it’s really important to stay composed and that’s what we’re doing right now. Another day to work and prepare for Thursday.”

“It’s just another game (Thursday) and then we have a back-to-back coming up,” netminder Linus Ullmark said.  “Every game is a battle. We want to get to the playoffs and we have to make a push. Every game is the most important of the day.”

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