In what had to be an emotional game following the trade of their captain, Jason Pominville, to the Minnesota Wild just days ago, the Buffalo Sabres came from behind to defeat their divisional rivals the Ottawa Senators 4-2 tonight.
The Sabres combined an interesting blend of youthful talent with grizzled (and somewhat fizzled) experience to pot those four goals, and at times their roster looked more Rochester Amerks than Buffalo Sabres! What did you expect, though, as the organization has dished three blueliners and a first-line forward in recent weeks? With only ten games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Sabres are sitting in that awkward position of having to mix some NHL players who probably won’t be back next year with some AHL guys who would love nothing more than to be the ones who replace those whose days in Buffalo are numbered. It’s not the best situation, but tonight at least it got results, to the tune of goals by Luke Adam, Steve Ott, Brian Flynn, and Jochen Hecht.
Yes, astute readers: I mentioned the fact that there are only ten games remaining on the Sabres’ regular season schedule. Yet again, following a win and the two points that accompany it, the Sabres find themselves inexplicably within striking distance of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Look: I highly doubt this team will make the playoffs, and if they do I can’t imagine they survive the first round. Having said that, being only four points behind teams that the Sabres will play at least once one more time this season creates just enough suspense to make you wonder, “What if?” At the very least, these last few games have a chance to be meaningful ones, instead of complete throw-aways. Having to make up four points in ten games is not an impossible task, and if the Sabres can use what has happened to them as motivation to continue playing aggressive, team-oriented hockey like they did tonight, they could give a scare to those teams currently sitting in 7th-9th place tonight.
As usual, tonight’s game was not pretty: the Sabres surrendered shots on goal. I mean, it was nice that they allowed Ryan Miller to set the Sabres’ franchise saves record tonight, but still, this team is allowing more shots on goal than any team in the NHL, which means they are expecting their goalies to play out of their minds every single night. The Sabres also committed some ill-timed penalties; it’s almost as if they want to give up the lead some nights! Charitable group of players, these guys are. Neither of these problems have been adequately addressed this season, so it’s safe to assume the next ten games will provide more of the same, in which case the Sabres will be lucky to go 3-5-2 over their final stretch of games.
At any rate, a win’s a win, so kudos to the team for pulling this one out following the emotional roller coaster of a week. Congrats, as well, to Luke Adam, who scored his first goal as a Sabres since December 17 of 2011. Make the most of your remaining time in Buffalo, young pup – who knows what the future holds for you next year!