Blizzard in Buffalo postpones Canes-Sabres game

calexander@newsobserver.comJanuary 7, 2014 

Conditions in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., on Tuesday morning, Jan. 7, 2014, in a Twitter photo by N&O staffer Chip Alexander. The NHL game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night has been called off because of the weather.

CHIP ALEXANDER — calexander@newsobserver.com

— The blizzard of ’14 caused the Carolina Hurricanes’ game with the Buffalo Sabres to be postponed Tuesday.

As for a makeup date, that could be dicey.

“The game definitely will be rescheduled,” Canes general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It is difficult to do, especially in an Olympic year. But (the NHL) is working on it and will try to figure it out in the next day or two.”

Snowy, windy, hazardous conditions in the Buffalo area resulted in the first weather-related postponement of a Sabres home game since December 2000. The decision was reached with a blizzard warning in effect, the downtown area blanketed by whiteout conditions, major highways closed and wind-chill temperatures dangerously low.

The Hurricanes held their normal morning skate at First Niagara Center, hoping conditions would improve and the game played at 7 p.m.

“We just told our (players), ‘Hey, there are so many things that go on in a season as pro athletes and you’ve always got to keep your focus,’ ” Canes coach Kirk Muller said. “You’re always being challenged.”

The challenge will be finding a suitable date to reschedule the game.

The Hurricanes, for example, have four days open next week between games against Calgary and Florida, but the Sabres have two games scheduled during that time frame. Compounding the problem is the February break for the Winter Olympics, causing the NHL schedule to be compressed during March and into April.

“The question on rescheduling the game is where you put it and how does it affect the teams,” Rutherford said. “Teams are already playing three games in four nights a number of times. It makes it more difficult.”

Rutherford noted the NHL previously has shuffled schedules of more than the two teams involved in a postponement, moving games around.

“I don’t know how it will work out, but the game will not be cancelled,” he said.

There could be Stanley Cup playoff implications. The Canes (18-16-9) have 45 points and were fourth in the Metropolitan Division entering Tuesday, one point behind the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers.

Eight teams from the Eastern Conference will qualify for the playoffs – the top three teams in the Metropolitan and Atlantic divisions, and the next two teams with the most points, regardless of division.

The Sabres said the last weather-related postponement of a home game was Dec. 6, 2000, against the New Jersey Devils. That game was played the next day.

Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe, a former Sabres forward, said he has seen worse weather in Buffalo. His advice for handling it: “Better bundle up.”

The Hurricanes’ plan was to return to Raleigh on Wednesday morning. They face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday at PNC Arena.

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