With the playoffs coming in tow and the Sabres still clinging onto threads in the playoff hunt, a strong March would help this team immensely. Here is what the Sabres schedule looks like in the month of March.
|Montreal||Wed 03/04||7:30 PM EST|
|Phoenix||Fri 03/06||7:30 PM EST|
|@ Ottawa||Sat 03/07||7:00 PM EST|
|@ Philadelphia||Tue 03/10||7:00 PM EDT|
|Florida||Thu 03/12||7:00 PM EDT|
|Atlanta||Sat 03/14||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Ottawa||Tue 03/17||7:30 PM EDT|
|Philadelphia||Fri 03/20||7:30 PM EDT|
|@ New York Rangers||Sat 03/21||7:00 PM EDT|
|Florida||Wed 03/25||7:00 PM EDT|
|Toronto||Fri 03/27||7:30 PM EDT|
|@ Montreal||Sat 03/28||7:00 PM EDT|
The Sabres have a fairly playoff hunt heavy schedule with 8 of the 13 teams they play just as desperate as they are to get points. The other thing that looks to be against the Sabres is that most of the games they play are at home in which the Sabres play progressively worse. They usually win about 54% of their games on the road as compared to 49% at home. Thankfully, seven of the twelve opponents also have expectations to win less that 50%. Compiling all of the data, the Sabres are expected to have a winning percentage of .518. With roughly 9% of the Sabres games this season ending in an overtime loss, that also means that one of those losses is most likely going to be an overtime loss. This puts the expected record for the month of March at 6-5-1, which is good for 13 points.
The Sabres play back-to-back games three times in the month of March which could be ugly due to the fact that they play really terribly in the second game in the back-to-back situation.
While this procedure is far from exact, it gives a relative expectation of what to expect. I predicted in late January that the month of February was going to go 7-5-1, which is close to correct with the Sabres at 5-5-1 with two games left against beatable opponents. We also said that they would be in the sixth position at the end of the month by overtaking the Flyers, which wasn't necessarily correct.
Breaking down the 4th-10th spots in the conference, this is what the conference could shake out to be at the end of March, point totals are as of 3/1 (tiebreakers are factored in):
4. Philadelphia (7-6-2) Total of 92 points
5. Montreal (7-4-1) Total of 90 points
6. Florida (8-5-2) Total of 88 points
7. Rangers (5-5-1) Total of 83 points
8. Buffalo (6-5-1) Total of 82 points
9. Carolina (6-6-1) Total of 82 points
10. Pittsburgh (6-5-1) Total of 81 points
The Panthers and the Flyers have the most games in the month of March with 15 while the Rangers play the least with 11. The Hurricanes have the hardest schedule with an expected winning percentage of .467 followed by the Flyers with a .471 and the Rangers at .486. The Canadiens have the highest winning expectation at .542 followed by the Panthers at .530 and the Sabres at .518.
With the way things look, this team needs to pick up the pace and outplay their expectations. This would be the crunch time portion of the schedule and this team needs to step up their game or be stepped on.