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A playoff atmosphere is in the air during March Madness betting and the stretch run for the NHL post-season. Every game in the NHL schedule counts, and that is especially true for games like this one between two teams battling for the same playoff spot. Both of these teams are looking to move up in the NHL standings, and both of these teams are doing the right things to make those moves happen.

The Buffalo Sabres hold down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference NHL standings, but the Sabres are also only three points away from taking over sixth place. The Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to make one last push as they sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Sabres by seven points. With only six games remaining, it is unlikely that the Toronto Maple Leafs will catch Buffalo. But if the players on the Maple Leafs want to be on the team next season, they will keep making a push as though the playoffs were within their reach.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres are 6-3-1 on the last 10 games and are riding a three-game winning streak. In the last few games, Buffalo is getting excellent goaltending from former Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller. Miller is 4-0-1 in his last five games and that stretch includes two shutouts. Miller’s play has been solid behind a defense that is not playing so well, but the Buffalo offense has really picked up the pace in the last several games. The Sabres have brought their goal differential to +12, which is a dramatic improvement over where the team was at just after the all-star break. The team is still waiting for aggressive forward Patrick Kaleta to return to the line-up. But, in the meantime, pint-sized performers Nathan Gerbe and Tyler Ennis are causing plenty of headaches for the opposition.

Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs were keeping pace with the Sabres as early as a week ago. But while Buffalo was ripping off a three-game winning streak, the Leafs have had a difficult time putting two wins together. In the last 10 games, the Leafs are 5-4-1 and they just lost their most recent game which was against the Detroit Red Wings. A loss to Detroit is nothing to be ashamed of, but when you are chasing a team in the standings that keeps on winning then every game counts.

The Bottom Line

If the Leafs lose this game, then you can pretty much consider them out of the playoff hunt as it will put them nine points behind the high-flying Sabres with only five games left in the season. The Sabres are probably not going to catch Tampa Bay for fifth in the standings, but to climb to the sixth position in the Eastern Conference would be quite an accomplishment for a team that was out of the playoffs immediately after the all-star break.

BSNblog Pick: Buffalo Sabres

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