Survey a group of Buffalo Sabres fans if the playoffs are still a possibility in 2024, and you would be shocked at how many may claim a 13th season will be added to the drought. While the Blue and Gold have their work cut out for them in January 2024, many of those fans may be shocked to know that recent history is on Buffalo’s side.
Last season, the Sabres were just one point away from ending their playoff drought, and this year, they currently sit seven points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the second wild card spot. That will deter a portion of the fan base from believing the postseason is a possibility, but a quick history lesson proves otherwise.
On January 12th, 2023, the Sabres may have had a slightly better record than they do today, sitting at 42 points in 40 contests played, as opposed to their current 40 points in 42 games. However, they were six points behind the second wild card at the time, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had 48 points. As for the first wild card, the Washington Capitals, the Sabres sat 10 points behind them, two more than the eight points behind the New York Islanders this season, who have 48.
Erroneous to claim the playoffs aren’t possible for the Buffalo Sabres
While the Sabres sat in the fifth wild card spot on January 12th, 2023 as opposed to the eighth spot today, the tiny variance in point differential between them and the second wild card - seven this season and six last season - 366 days ago is worth taking note of. Interestingly enough, the Florida Panthers, who ended up winning the Eastern Conference, also had 42 points and a meager 0.98 points per game at the time, putting them one notch under the Sabres and in the sixth wild card spot.
This isn’t to claim history will repeat itself and see the Buffalo Sabres become strong contenders again in 2024. But it is saying that the Blue and Gold were well outside of a wild card spot this time last year, along with the Panthers. Both teams were right there to snag a wild card by the end of the season, and it ultimately went to Florida.
So, if you’re in the contingent who believes playoffs are not possible because of the team’s current situation, it’s time to believe otherwise. Buffalo is still very much in this race at the moment, but they do need to keep winning games throughout the next few months to be in the thick of things at season’s end.
(Data provided by QuantHockey)