The Sabres are six points out of a playoff spot. By New Year’s Day, the number could be two or 10.
So, yes, Buffalo knows back-to-back meetings with Boston are as important as December games can get.
“It’s significant for us,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Wednesday. “You’re staring at Boston for a home-and-home. They’re within earshot. You have a chance of sweeping these two games and gaining four points on them and putting yourself right near them, right next to them in the standings.”
The seventh-place Sabres will host the third-place Bruins on Thursday and visit Boston on Saturday. Wins would rejuvenate the organization. Losses could start the countdown to the NHL Draft.
“These are two huge games right before the new year,” forward Zemgus Girgensons said in KeyBank Center. “If we could get these two wins, it would be a nice finish to the year.”
The Sabres practiced without goaltender Robin Lehner and defensemen Jake McCabe and Dmitry Kulikov. Coach Dan Bylsma said all had maintenance days and should be available Thursday.
Defenseman Cody Franson practiced fully after missing three games with a mid- to lower-body injury.
“We’ll see how he responded to practice today, and hopefully it could mean he might be back with us,” Bylsma said.
— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) December 28, 2016
Tyler Ennis, who has been out since Nov. 7 with sports hernia surgery, continues to skate on his own. He could return to practice in 7 to 10 days.
“In the next little bit here, hopefully seeing him back with the team,” Bylsma said.