Buffalo Sabres on Warpath

Lookout Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres may have woken up for the home stretch of the 2010-2011 season.  In the last ten games, the Buffalo Sabres are 7-3, despite not being able to win more than two games in a row.  Only two team in the league have a better record in the last ten games played, and that is San Jose and Philadelphia.  Don’t start planning parade routes just yet, but the playoffs might not be out of the question this year after all.

After a lack luster start in October, which carried over to November, the Sabres found themselves looking up at most teams in the conference, with only New York (Islanders) and New Jersey below them.  Now Ottawa has rejoined the bottom of the pack, and Florida and Toronto are returning to their rightful spots in the standings despite a surge early on.    A look at the standings and you can clearly see that New Jersey, the Islanders, and Ottawa don’t stand much of a chance at extending their season beyond 82 games. 

Florida and Toronto are clinging to hopes just like the Buffalo Sabres, and the Sabres can help put the Panthers in their corner for the season tomorrow night, by defeating the beleagured Florida franchise.  Buffalo sits just four points back from Carolina for the eighth spot, with two games in hand, and games against the Hurricanes left on the schedule.  While I enjoy making every game on the schedule matter for something, I don’t think I want to be in a position come April where we are relying on other teams to lose games to gain position in the standings.  The Buffalo Sabres need to make a stand right now, and put themselves in charge of their destiny. 

Which has to make you wonder – are we going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?  New owner Terry Pegula may or may not take control of the team before the deadline; and he is obviously in a winning frame of mind.  I am not sure if he can make much of a difference in this years roster, but he will definitely be making moves that will shape this franchise going into the future.  Do you disrupt just enough this year to plan for next year and lose out on the opportunity to win something, or do you maintain a status quo with the hopes that something in this team has clicked, and that winning might not actually be too far off. 

Who am I kidding, damn, I just sounded like Darcy Regier in that last paragraph.  This team needs a roster shakeup, but I think at this point in the season, you have to be careful, because this team has proven that given the right circumstances, it can be dangerous. 

We’ve pointed out time and time again that the lowest seed to ever win a Stanley Cup was the New Jersey Devils in the shortened season – they were a fifth seed, but Edmonton has made it to the finals as an eight place team, and the Montreal Canadiens were the buzz saw cinderella team ripping through the Eastern conference giants last year. 

There is 30 games left on the schedule, in no way are we going to win all 30 of them for the 60 possible points, but even a five hundred hockey team gets you to 85 points, play a couple of games above .500 and keep watching the teams in front of you fall, and nothing is out of the realms of possibility.  Montreal is catchable in the standings.  Washington may be just out of reach; so we are looking at the possibility of getting into the playoffs as high as sixth place, Boston is only 12 points away, so if the cards fall the right way, well you could still say that mathematically the division is still within reach also, making third a real possibilty. 

Lets not get too excited though, as we are an injury or adversity away from tanking out and making life easy on the teams in front of us; but at the same time, its a little easier to talk about hockey knowing that you have more hope in playing more than 82 games this year.

Tags: Boston Bruins Buffalo Sabres Crosby Drew Stafford Dwayne Roloson Eastern Conference Malkin Montreal Canadiens Ryan Miller San Jose Sharks Terry Pegula Tim Connolly Toronto Maple Leafs Washington Capitals

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