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Thrashers At Sabres: A Big Two Points On The Line Tonight In Buffalo

The Buffalo Sabres, still with 60 points and two games in hand on the Thrashers, have been stuck in a three game losing streak. Thankfully the Sabres have been having issues; this, along with Carolina's recent issues, have kept the Thrashers in a holding pattern for the past few weeks. Unfortunately, the Thrashers blew leads against the Phoenix Coyotes last Thursday and the Edmonton Oilers last Saturday; if they had won those two games, they'd be one point out of the final playoff spot.

Of course, you can't fix the past; the Thrashers can only hope to right a sinking ship. With the re-signing today of General Manager Rick Dudley to a four-year extension, the Thrashers have a solid general manager to work with as far as re-tweaking the team. The trade deadline is less than a week away, but Dudley has already pro-actively gotten the team bigger with trading for Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart. Tonight's a test to see if the Thrashers can respond.

The Sabres' recent issues can't hold a candle to Atlanta's. The Thrashers are 1-6-1 this month, and are 3-10-4 in their last seventeen. Needless to say, this stretch has cost them major footing in the Eastern Conference. They're fortunate that the teams around them can't seem to win either. The Sabres' first regulation win against the Thrashers since January of 2008 came this past October, but the Thrashers came back to win in overtime a week later. The last two meetings between the two clubs'll be played in Buffalo, but in the past 11 games, the Thrashers have won eight of eleven games. Signs are good.

Of course, Toronto's just a point below the Thrashers, Florida's three, New Jersey (an amazing 16-1-2 in their last 19 games) is four, and the Islanders are seven. As the Thrashers have been slipping, the rest of the Eastern Conference's been rising.

Out for the Thrashers is still Jim Slater, Alexander Burmistrov, Fredrik Modin, Patrice Cormier, and Freddy Meyer. Patrick Rissmiller, who was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers this summer that sent Todd White over, has been called up and might play tonight if coach Craig Ramsay decides to dress six instead of seven forwards.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.