Fan’s View: Buffalo Sabres Need These Three Things to Make the Playoffs

There are just 10 games left in the Buffalo Sabres' 2011-12 National Hockey League season, and they're still involved in a heated race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, sitting two points behind the Washington Capitals in eighth (78 points) as of press time and tied with Winnipeg with 76 points; both Washington and Winnipeg have a game in hand on the Sabres. 10 games isn't a lot of time, and these things must to continue to go right in these final days of the Sabres' season.

Ennis the Menace - when Tyler Ennis scored against the Florida Panthers on Saturday, March 17th, announcer Kevin Sylvester made the statement "Ennis is a menace." I had to laugh upon hearing that, but I had to agree as well: following a rough start to the season which included numerous games lost to injuries, Ennis has been one of the Sabres' best players as of late. He has four goals and three assists in his last four games, and his move to center has left fans like me asking why it wasn't done sooner. If Ennis can keep up his game, it makes the Sabres' chances for making the playoffs better.

Foligno magic - following the trade deadline departure of Zack Kassian, fans wanted to see what Marcus Foligno, son of former Sabre Mike Foligno, could do. The Sabres' fourth-round draft pick in 2009, Foligno has good size (6-foot-2, 215 pounds), good speed and a great shot. In the past four games, he has three goals and two assists, with a shooting percentage of 42.9 percent. He has been successfully paired with Ennis and Drew Stafford, matching Ennis with his speed and Stafford with his size - with the recent lackluster play of Thomas Vanek and the defensive weakness of Jason Pominville and Derek Roy late in recent games, the Ennis/Stafford/Foligno line is making a case for the team's top line.

Miller time - Ryan Miller has been the Sabres' backbone for the past seven seasons, and since the All-Star break he's been the backbone of the Sabres' re-emergence as a playoff contender. His goals against average (2.58) and save percentage (.914) are back to his career averages (2.57 and .914, respectively) and he's already matched his career-best season totals for shut outs (five). If Miller can remain strong and get the defense in front of him to stop the late-game breakdowns they've recently had, Miller could push the team into the playoffs.

Paula is a life-long resident of the suburbs of Buffalo, New York and a long-time Buffalo Sabres and NHL fan.

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Paula Thompson is a member of the Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Updated Sunday, Mar 18, 2012