If you’re anything like me – and heaven help you if you are! – when you took a look at the newly-aligned Eastern Conference, you let fly with a few choice words. Then, when you read about how teams would qualify for the playoffs, you threw your hands up in the air and immediately began stocking up on beer, the better to prepare for another long, hard winter of Sabres hockey. With the Eastern Conference home to 16 teams, six of which will qualify for the playoffs by finishing in the top three of their respective divisions, the road to the Stanley Cup tilts heavily in favor of those teams who stack up well against their divisional foes, making today’s question an important one:
Where, exactly, do the Buffalo Sabres rank within their division as they get set to open the 2013-2014 campaign?
Taking a look at the Atlantic Division, there are two teams who almost certainly get penciled in for the 1-2 slots among hockey fans: the Detroit Red Wings, and the Boston Bruins. Both teams qualified for the playoffs last year, with Boston making it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, and both teams survived the offseason mostly intact. Bleacher Report has the Red Wings and Bruins ranked 12th and 6th, respectively, in their 2013-2014 pre-season power rankings, which would make Boston the highest-ranked Atlantic team, while the team that many readers have told me they fear the most – the Red Wings – would be ranked . . . fourth?
So who does Bleacher Report rank higher in the Atlantic than Detroit heading into this season? Why, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators, two more teams who enjoyed successful regular seasons last year and qualified for the playoffs.
Hmmmm. So if those teams make up your top four in the Atlantic Division, does that leave the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth spot?
Well . . . not according to Bleacher Report. As a matter of fact, the only Atlantic team that the Sabres currently rank higher than are the Florida Panthers . . . by only two spots in the rankings. Clearly, if these rankings hold true, the Sabres will already be out of the playoff chase by the time February hits the 716.
Like I said in my post yesterday, though: it’s a good things the games are played on ice, not on paper.
Time to vote! Do you agree the Buffalo Sabres will be the second-to-last place team in the Atlantic Division next year? I don’t. Personally, out of the eight teams that are in the division, I would put the Sabres in 5th, ahead of Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and – call it a hunch – the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now you – vote!