Warning: not for the faint of heart.
A week ago, the Buffalo Sabres had 28 points, were in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, and were four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. They had won two in a row and were about to win their third straight over division rival Montreal. Even better, the Sabres were about to head into a very favorable stretch in their schedule, in which they were to face off against two teams mired in the bottom of the conference: the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers. Yep: a week ago the playoffs were actually something Buffalo Sabres’ fans could talk about, without needing to use the phrase “There is no way we’re going to make the . . .” anywhere in their conversations!
Depressed yet? Wait – give me a minute!
Today, the Sabres have 31 points, are 13th in the Eastern Conference, and are five points behind the eighth and final playoff spot. They earned one point in an overtime loss to the last-place Panthers, and have allowed the Lightning to pass by them in the standings. It’s not hyperbole to call this past week the most disappointing week in a season full of disappointment: the Sabres had been playing well enough to put themselves in a position to make a serious playoff run, and simply had to take care of business against two teams whose chances of making the playoffs are just slightly better than mine. Their failure to play with any sense of determination and urgency has put their playoff lives on life support.
Our look at the standings, then:
A reader asked if it was even mathematically possible for the Sabres to still make the playoffs. Hmmmm. The Sabres have 14 games left. If they were to go 12-2 and pile up an astounding 24 points, they would end the year with 55 points. The Rangers and Islanders, both of whom have 35 points right now, would need to secure 20 points to tie that point total, no easy feat for teams that only have 15 and 14 games left, respectively. So yes, it’s mathematically possible that the Sabres can make the playoffs . . .
. . . but then again, it is also mathematically possible that I will be struck by lightning AND hit by a meteor in the next five minutes as I finish typing this post. (I’m tempted to bet that this scenario actually has a greater probability of occurring than the Sabres making the playoffs!) A 12-2 record is just not going to happen – the Sabres would be lucky to go 6-4-2, which would net them a more realistic 14 points and 45 for the year – so if just a handful of the teams ahead of them in the standings play .500 hockey here on out, the Sabres will end the season in 12th, maybe 11th, place in the Eastern Conference.
Not to be pessimistic, but what it appears Sabres’ fans will be doing as the regular season winds down is either praying for a miracle – appropriate, given the fact that it is Easter weekend – or cheering for the Sabres to knock a few conference rivals out of playoff contention, as well. Pick your sides!
I will be covering tonight’s action LIVE from First Niagara Center so follow me @sabrenoise and be sure to read my knee jerk reactions after the game!!!