by Kevin Klein
Last night, like most of us, Brooks Laich sat at home and watched as Buffalo continued to fight against a hapless Toronto Maple Leafs team. Eventually, through controversy and perserverance, the Sabres pulled out a spirited victory, keeping their playoff hopes very much alive. Brooks Laich admitted that he was surprised his television made it through the night. Likely there are other televisions in the Washington metro area that were not so lucky.
This morning, Brooks spoke to the 106.7 with uncharacteristic vigor when asked about the potential of missing the playoffs, and then looking back to missed opportunities. “I have a belief we’re going to be in the playoffs, and that’s it,” the center said. “I don’t want to discuss any scenario that we’re not. My belief is that we’re going to be in the playoffs.”
Ryan Miller didn’t much like Brooks’s sentiment. But then again, what doesn’t Ryan Miller get sensitive about these days? “We’re not playing against him. It’s not Mark Messier. I think he’s searching for a spark for his team.” The NHL’s third star of the month of March said. “They should be desperate right now, too. So I think they’re just looking for little things. I don’t think anybody in this locker room would go so far as to start to do that. It’s distracting. Hopefully, it’s a huge distraction for them. Some guys don’t react well to that. Guys might tighten up. Maybe their goaltenders, young goaltenders, aren’t going to react well to a guaranteed victory by their veteran guy. I think they start thinking about it.”
Michal Neuvirth has never had a problem responding to bulletin board material before, as Dan Bylsma and the Pittsburgh Penguins know well enough.
Granted, with two teams vying for a final playoff spot in the season’s final stretch, their bound to play games with each other. In Laich’s case, he was one of the team’s leaders, speaking up and invoking a vote of confidence in his teammates as they prepare for the season’s penultimate matchup against division leading Florida. Surely there’s nothing wrong with a little panache in such a high-stakes environment.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was less abrasive about Laich’s comments, even joking, “it sounds like they’ll want to knock Florida out for sure, then.”
Both teams play on Thursday evening, Washington at home against Florida, Buffalo on the road against Philadelphia. If Washington wins and Buffalo loses in regulation, the Capitals clinch the 8th seed. If Buffalo wins, the 8th seed will be determined on Saturday, the final day of the regular season.
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