Buffalo Sabres Charge Into Final Month


The Buffalo Sabres enter the final month of the 2014-2015 NHL season at the bottom of the league. Sitting in 30th as they have been for some time, the Sabres were officially eliminated from playoff contention a few days ago, though realistically most knew that the Sabres weren’t hitting the postseason for some time already.

Despite all of that — the 2014-15 season is not over yet.

The Buffalo Sabres still have 15 games left on tap for this season in the last month, including four sets of back-to-backs and a stretch of six games in eight nights.

Here’s a look at how the rest of this season’s schedule pans out for the struggling Sabres.

All in all, the Sabres face 14 different opponents in the next 15 games. The lone team they’ll face twice: the Arizona Coyotes.

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Nine of those games will come against Eastern Conference opponents, and the Sabres will face five of the six teams sitting directly ahead of them in the standings, with the exception of the Edmonton Oilers.

As it stands right now, the Sabres have a tough road ahead of them in the last month of the season. They’ll face four of the top 10 teams in the NHL, including the first-place New York Rangers and third-place Nashville Predators. The New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins will also provide tough, top-notch competition.

Moving down the pipeline, the Sabres also face three more teams currently standing in the top half of the league — Chicago, Washington and Boston.

Overall, the Sabres face 10 teams that have a 20+ point edge on Buffalo in the standings. They’ll also face teams with big-name high scorers, players that Buffalo will have to contain if they want a chance to win.

Take, for instance, John Tavares, whose NY Islanders host the Sabres on April 4. He’s registered 72 points on the season, which is two more than Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson (the Sabres’ top-two leading scorers) COMBINED.

Washington Capitals captain Ovechkin, who visits Buffalo with his team this coming Monday, has as many points alone this season as Ennis and Moulson do combined.

Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, whose team hosts the Sabres on March 23, has one more point this season alone than the combined totals of Brian Gionta, Marcus Foligno, Nicolas Deslauriers and Nikita Zadorov. The same can be said of Rangers winger Rick Nash.

Take the points of Ennis, Moulson, Girgensons, Gionta and Foligno and you still won’t match the point totals of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Of course, there’s no real comparison to players like Ovechkin and Crosby, but this is the level the Sabres are playing at — where their top points scorers are producing significantly lower points than other NHL teams.

Looking at some of the lower-standing teams in the league, it’s still not a great comparison. Keith Yandle and Justin Faulk, leading scorers for Arizona and Carolina, have 41 and 44 points, which aren’t bad. But Phil Kessel has 52 points for Toronto and Nick Foligno has 58 points for Columbus.

These are all players that the Sabres have to contend with in the last month of the season.

The good news — or is it? — is that the Sabres played eight of their last 15 games on home ice. The Sabres have been better this year on home ice (12-18-3) than on the road (7-24-3) and the hope going forward, at least for me, is that they can put on a good show for the folks who continue to pay good money for tickets. And fans will keep showing up, as evidenced by the fact that the Sabres were 11th leaguewide in attendance through 30 home games.

We just need to get through this next month, and then things will get a whole lot more exciting in Buffalo. The introduction of a highly-touted prospect like McDavid or Eichel, combined with Reinhart coming to the NHL full-time and whatever pieces come in via trade, waivers, free agency and the like, will make for an exciting future for the Sabres organization.

Remaining schedule for the Buffalo Sabres:

Next: Questions For The Buffalo Sabres Going Forward

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