|Craig Rivet (Getty Images) |
Staring at a 3-1 series deficit and heading into Game 5, defenseman Craig Rivet was firm, but collected inside the Buffalo Sabres locker room.
Fielding questions from the media, the captain was clear that confidence is not an issue, regardless of the fact that the team is facing elimination on Friday night.
Maybe it’s because the 14-year NHL veteran - with nearly 70 postseason games under his belt - knows exactly what it takes to bounce back and win.
Or maybe it’s because he’s done it before.
In fact, not only has Rivet been in the exact same situation earlier in his career, but while playing for the Montreal Canadiens - and finding himself one game away from losing in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Rivet was up against an all too familiar opponent.
“That was against Boston of all teams," Rivet recalled. "We got down [3-1] in the series and what we said was to not look any farther than the game we have ahead of us."
After dropping the first two games to the Bruins in Montreal, Rivet and the Canadiens headed to Beantown. In Game 3, Alexei Kovalev scored a pair of goals to help the Habs earn their first win of the playoffs. The victory was short-lived, however, as the following game, the Bruins claimed a 4-3 overtime win to put them up in a 3-1 series lead.
Facing elimination, the Canadiens found a way to claim three consecutive wins to beat Boston in seven games, marking the first time in franchise history the team had staged such a comeback.
While it’s obviously a daunting task, Rivet and the Sabres are clinging to that hope that they can attain a similar outcome.
“We definitely feel that we can do it. There is no doubt about that,” Rivet said. “We still feel very confident with our abilities and with our team. We’re battlers.
“We have a strong core group of players, guys that have played very well and we’re getting excellent goaltending - we just need to be a little bit sharper. When you’re faced against a do or die situation, we’re going to see how we react.”
The Sabres will get that chance Friday night at HSBC Arena as they try to overcome what no other team in franchise history has done.
“We’re not looking at three in a row, we’re just looking at one game - the next game - and that’s it.” Rivet said. “That’s what we have to do. We can’t go back and turn back time and hope for something different. We have to go out and change it and its going to start with next game.”
A total of eight players from the American Hockey League were recalled by the Buffalo Sabres today to serve as some depth for the playoffs, after the Portland Pirates were eliminated from the post-season.
Coming to Buffalo are: goaltenders Jhonas Enroth
and J.P. Lamoureux; defensemen Mike Weber
, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Mike Kostka; and forwards Philip Gogulla, Nathan Gerbe
and Mark Mancari.
A handful of Sabres took the ice on Thursday morning for the team's optional skate. Thomas Vanek
, Matt Ellis
, Chris Butler, Raffi Torres and Patrick Lalime all practiced at HSBC Arena, while Drew Stafford
and Ryan Miller
, meanwhile, skated without gear.
The Sabres also announced some changes to Friday's "Party in the Plaza," returning for Game Five. For details, click here