The Buffalo Sabres have the talent to at least sneak into the playoffs in 2023-24, but will they realistically make a deeper-than-expected run?
In 2023-24, everyone expects the Buffalo Sabres to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card contender and probably do a lot of nothing. Remember, this is a team that, although they’re an elite scoring unit that could be even better this year if they’re cool with scoring “dirty” goals when they can’t wow audiences with their highlight-reel tendencies, is still unproven on defense and yes, even in the net.
We only need to look to yesterday’s disastrous evening for the team to realize that they are far from a proven product when they don’t have the puck. It’s also important to remember that they still don’t have a proven goaltender on the roster. And yeah, I know, Devon Levi should change that narrative, but until he does, there is no proven goaltender.
But that doesn’t mean the Sabres won’t bust into the playoffs and shock the NHL this season even more than they did last year. Remember when the Blue and Gold were a “hopeless team” last October? Therefore, anything is possible for this young team until they’re eliminated from contention.
Is a deep playoff run in the cards for the 2023-24 Buffalo Sabres?
Just six months ago, nobody saw the Florida Panthers doing what they did. And no one who thinks the game through realistically believed the Vegas Golden Knights would have embarked on their magical run during their expansion season. Check out this quote from The Old Prof of The Hockey Writers to get an idea of how special that Vegas team was:
"“In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights shocked the hockey world by making it to the Stanley Cup Final. By doing so, they became the first expansion team in NHL history to reach the final round.”"
Hey, if the 2017-18 Golden Knights can go deep in the postseason, any one of the 32 NHL teams can. But I’m not about to predict whether the Blue and Gold represent the East in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. Instead, I’m looking to answer whether Buffalo will shock the league by at least threatening to break their way into the Eastern Conference Final.
We know they will be a high-octane unit once more this season, and the possibility of another scorer in Zach Benson joining the crew could add to their sheer dominance with the puck. As I mentioned the other day, the way the team plays defense will determine their ultimate outcome.
Luckily for the Buffalo Sabres, they moved one step closer to knowing what doesn’t work when they don’t have the puck following last night’s ill-fated performance – Connor Clifton, I’m talking about you more than anyone else. If they ever realize that a sound game without puck possession is a catalyst for a high-profile scoring attack, then the cosmos is the limit for one of the league’s most dangerous teams with the puck.