Buffalo Sabres final games of 2023 will be crucial to their wild card standing

Upsetting the NHL’s best this season has been a constant for the Buffalo Sabres, and for the next two games, it must stay that way.
Buffalo Sabres v Arizona Coyotes
Buffalo Sabres v Arizona Coyotes / Zac BonDurant/GettyImages

Picking up a much-needed win vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs kept up the trend in 2023-24 that had seen the Buffalo Sabres routinely upset teams that, on paper, should beat them. But as the calendar year reaches its final week, the Sabres need wins over two more prime contenders if they don’t want so much ground to make up by the time December 30th and December 31st roll around. 

At this time, the Blue and Gold still have the third-lowest points total in the Eastern Conference, and they are seven points out of a wild card, so taking advantage of the latter two of their three “golden opportunities” is a requirement.

If the Sabres win these next two games, they will sit just two points under 0.500 and those 35 points may inch them closer, or in a worst-case scenario, keep them at seven points back. But at the absolute least, they won’t fall back any further than they already have. 

Upsets aren’t the only requirement for the Buffalo Sabres, however…

Buffalo also plays the two worst teams in the conference to close out the 2023 calendar year, and they should be seeking a revenge outing vs. a Columbus Blue Jackets team that just hung nine points on them earlier in the week. The Ottawa Senators are the one team the Blue and Gold should theoretically have little trouble with, but they would also do well to treat them as though they’re playing one of the league’s best. 

If the Sabres can adopt that same “got to win them all” mentality to close out the year, there is no guarantee they will finish 2023 5-0-0 (counting the Toronto game). However, they were also forced to roll with this mentality during the latter stages of the playoff race in late-March and in April, and they finished the season 9-2-1, or a 0.791 points percentage. 

If we assume the Buffalo Sabres are 1-0-0 following their blowout win vs. the Maple Leafs, and they can at least give us roughly an identical points percentage for the final four games of the 2023 calendar year, which would be 4-1-0, then they will have both momentum and the reassurance with potentially lesser ground to make up come January 2024. 

But, that must start tonight against the New York Rangers, when the Buffalo Sabres once again will seek to win two games in a row. The puck drops tonight at 7:30, so we won’t be forced to wait long to find out whether the Sabres are up for the challenge. 


(Information provided by Hockey-Reference)