Sabres set to clinch division


The Sabres travel North tonight to play the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The odds are very likely the Sabres are going to win tonight at the Air Canada Centre. 

Take a look at the numbers:

  • The 2009-2010 campaign has seen the Sabres sweep the Leafs so far, outscoring them 17-8 in the process. 
  • The Sabres have not lost at the ACC since January 19, 2008 a string of eight consecutive road games; the longest active streak of such a nature in the NHL. 
  • The last 10 games have gone in the Sabres favor. 

Couple all that with the fact that the Leafs are 13 points back from the final playoff spot, and it looks like we got another two points coming.  Couple a win tonight with an Ottawa loss to Carolina, and the Sabres get the point bridge large enough to secure the division crown.  Not bad for a team that was just looking to end a playoff drought. 

A quick look at the Sabres roster, and a non-Sabres fan would sense trouble.  Ryan Miller is playing too many games, Tim Connolly, Patrick Kaleta, and Thomas Vanek are all out with injuries.  Trade deadline acquisition Raffi Torres fits the mold of most Sabres beyond the top few, silent most nights. 

But the last three games have shown the organization’s plan of building from within and grooming draft picks works.  Rookie sensation Tyler Myers continues a campaign worthy of the Calder Trophy.  Tim (or Tyler depending on who you talk to) Kennedy is starting to spark an offensive potential that is long overdue.  Tyler Ennis is making a case that he has outgrown the Portland Pirates uniform.  Nathan Gerbe is showing signs of being NHL ready.  Mark Mancari played well here, and was victim to the Sabres need for Raffi Torres’ supposed “grittiness”. 

Depth is one thing the Sabres have, and the offense might be sparking at just the right time.  Jochen Hecht is having a decent year, hitting the 20 goals plateau, Jason Pominville has turned it on lately – to take the lead in the stats column for the Sabres where it counts.  He keeps up the pace and he might just hit 30 goals this season. 

The pieces might just be falling together for this team.  But not all of them. 

The defense still leaves something to be desired for.  Despite running over Tampa and Florida with a tight Boston game in between; the blue liners showed where the holes still are. 

The Sabres offense is not as potent as it can be.  Balanced scoring is there, but there top six forwards have to be better when it comes to shooting the puck.

The goaltending situation is a mess.  Ryan Miller, fan favorite, Zen-like Olympian master of the crease for Buffalo cannot win a Stanley Cup alone.  He needs a break.  Patrick Lalime is not the answer as a backup netminder.  Miller (God forbid, knock on wood, whatever superstition you need to do at this point) goes down with an injury, and you can all but count the Sabres out of a long playoff run. 

I am not saying with Miller in net the Sabres win it all this year, but things can happen.  If you believe in destiny like I do, I feel this team is destined to win a Stanley Cup in my lifetime.  Hell, I am 28 years old, I don’t’ want to have to celebrate a championship with my AARP buddies, but I’ll take it when it comes.  Maybe I’ll eat my words, but it won’t be this year, thats for certain.

Tags: 2010 AARP Buffalo Sabres Caronlina Hurricanes Destiny Hockey Ice Northeast Division Ottawa Senators Stanley Cup Stanley Cup Playoffs Toronto Maple Leafs