It's April Fools' Day, and The Joke is on The NHL!

Warning: this was written on April 1st, so please approach with caution!

This has to be a joke.

I mean, seriously: the Buffalo Sabres have lost four games in a row.  They have a losing record.  They have not won more than three games in a row yet this season.  They play like a team that is mildly interested in the sport of hockey.  They make mistakes my seven year-old son’s coaches scream at his mite hockey team for making.  They have more AHL players than, well, some AHL teams.

And they woke up today only three points out of the playoffs?

April Fools’!

Wait – this is for real?

Yes, fans of the Buffalo Sabres: your team is unbelievably within a three-game winning streak of overtaking the New York Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot.  You don’t believe, me I know, so here: take a look!

It’s mind-boggling, given the way the Sabres have been playing as of late, that they are even mathematically alive.  Some advocates of the NHL will tell you that this is parity at work; that the reason so many teams are still fighting for playoff spots is that, unlike some other pro sports leagues, the NHL is not a league made up of a few elite teams, a cluster of okay teams, and a handful of godawful teams that barely qualify as “professional” teams; that the NHL is the model of what all sports leagues should look like, since it’s made up of evenly-talented teams, any of whom could win on any given night.

I guess that is one way to view this; I, on the other hand, look at standing like this and say, “Where’s the competitive fire?  Doesn’t anyone want to win in this sport?”  Having thirty teams in the NHL has managed to spread the talent out to the point that a team like Winnipeg, who sports a -17 goal differential this season, is first in its division and third in the Eastern Conference standings.  It’s allowed Buffalo, a team that is quite godawful, to hang around and potentially steal a playoff spot from a team.  For the love of Wayne Gretzky, even Florida could still make the playoffs!  (Sure, it would require that they go undefeated from here on out, but . . . still!)

Can you imagine what the NHL will look like if it actually goes ahead and expands to 32 teams?  Woof.

Perhaps the NHL should adopt MLB’s approach to qualifying for the playoffs: have something like 40 teams play an insane amount of regular season games, and then let, like, four teams into the playoffs.  Is it more than four?  I don’t know – because who actually watches baseball?  But that’s the way you build real excitement into a professional sport season!

At any rate, that’s your look at the Eastern Conference standings today!

Tags: Buffalo Sabres

  • Ugh.

    You’re right. The NHL Should have 6 teams, and should only allow the ultra talented scorers.


    You’re an idiot. Stop writing about hockey, pursue something else as a hobby. Like garbage collecting, or restroom maintenance.

    • Richard Spalding

      Good thing I started a LinkedIn Account today – I’m always open for new career options!

      Seriously, maybe everyone is excited about terrible teams being within two games of making the playoffs. If that’s the case, those people must be loving the NHL this year!

      • Andrew

        Who pissed in his/her Cheerios?

        • Richard Spalding

          I hate Cheerios!!!!!!!!!!! Well, unless they’re frosted. Or Apple Cinnamon.

          • Ugh.

            I think it’s more of a complication brought up by the shortened season. I don’t remember people complaining about this last season, or the season before. Hmm. I wonder what the difference might be. Maybe when you basically cut a season in half the playoff berth bubble get’s a little bigger. Oh, but let’s rant about how terrible teams are close to the playoffs. If they are terrible, they won’t make it past the first round. Let’s be real, the only spot up for grabs is the eighth spot( I suppose an argument can be made for the seventh spot as well) That team that miraculously sucks less than the other team is still going to face the top team in the east. So before you get on your high horse calling teams terrible why don’t you take a step back and realize the consequences a shortened season can have on the standings come playoff time.

          • Richard Spalding

            I’m trying to roll with you on this one by being a bit joking in my responses, but I was not entirely serious when I wrote this. I’ve written other stuff, so maybe we can all breathe a little easier about this one piece!