We all have those time periods. Ruts, funks, whatever you want to call them. You just don’t have the mental energy to do anything. I had one of those recently, and well, you probably all noticed how terrible it got around here. I was afraid it was going to be doom and gloom for awhile, but then you hit that relatively easy patch where things seem to come together and your right back on track. Good news for everyone, I think I am back on track.
And what a time to come back full swing, when the Sabres have done the same thing. Leading into the Olympic break and shortly there after it was miserable in Buffalo. Losses were piling up, Miller was getting pulled, Lalime was not pulling his weight. Defensive lapses were the norm, and the offense sputtered. The Sabres desperately needed an easy patch where things just seemed to click. Other than the game against Atlanta, this recent road trip against the Southeast division couldn’t have come at a better time.
Comfortably in a playoff position, the Sabres were in danger of dropping to the bottom of the pack and fighting for a playoff spot. Now with a nine point lead in the division again, they can set their eyes on second place. I say second place because the only team in the Southeast that is worth a dime right now has claimed the top spot in the East, and no amount of winning is going to unseat the Washington Capitals.
The Sabres took 7 of ten possible points on this road trip, losing to Detroit and Atlanta. I took the loss to Atlanta hard at first, but then they bounced Ottawa and won both games in a home and home with Philadelphia. Atlanta is a team that is playing with more heart and determination as they are trying to claw into the playoffs.
Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina were dispatched easily as the Sabres look like they might have found a way to win again. For three games it looks like they got some swagger back, it looked like they were having fun on the ice again.
A quick look at the rest of the season could easily add another Northeast banner to the rafters of HSBC arena. When the team started the season only looking to make the playoffs, taking the division is a bonus.
The next two games for the Sabres are two of the most critical games on their schedule. Ottawa and Montreal. Both trail Buffalo, seven and nine points respectively. If the Sabres can continue the way they have been playing, these two four point games are huge in cementing the division. They won’t be easy games though, as both teams are gunning for the top spot in the Northeast as well.
The Sabres next three come against Boston, Tampa Bay and Florida. Boston is clinging to eighth and will be playing for the post season – Tampa and Florida could be pushed over again.
That puts us into April, where the Sabres finish the season against Toronto, New York (Rangers), Boston, Ottawa and Montreal again, and then they close the season in New Jersey.
Downtown Buffalo is still glowing from hosting the NCAA tournament this past weekend. A couple extra home playoff games will only help that glow out.