On Tuesday night the Sabres were thoroughly dominated by the Philadelphia Flyers. It seems almost every Sabres fan in the world is declaring the season over or as good as over after that loss. That sentiment couldn't be further from the truth. As the title reads, this team is down but they are not out.
The Sabres currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and they are four points behind the Carolina Hurrricanes and Florida Panthers (Sabres have one game in hand on the Canes). That's it...just four points, that is two hockey games folks. Let's not give up on the season because of a loss to the Flyers, a team that is currently in fourth place and playing excellent hockey.
This coming weekend is an important weekend for the Sabres and the standings could look dramatically different on Monday morning. The Sabres play the Florida Panthers on Thursday and the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, both are winnable hockey games and both are at home. Some of the other teams that are in the playoff race do not have such favorable schedules.
Upcoming Schedules for Other Playoff Contenders
Montreal Canadiens - (Prediction: 2 points) Thursday (vs. Islanders), Saturday (vs. New Jersey Devils)
Pittsburgh Penguins - (Prediction: 4 points) Thursday (@ Columbus), Saturday (vs. Ottawa), Sunday (vs. Boston)
Carolina Hurricanes - (Prediction: 2 points) Wednesday (@ Chicago), Thursday (@ Dallas), Saturday (@ Washington)
Florida Panthers - (Prediction: 2 points) Thursday (@ Buffalo), Saturday (vs. Tampa Bay)
New York Rangers - (Prediction: 2 points) Thursday (@ Nashville), Saturday (@ Philadelphia), Sunday (vs. Philadelphia)
If the predictions above are correct and the Sabres win both of their games, they will sit just one point out of a playoff spot with games in hand on every team except the Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens.
All of this really means absolutely nothing, especially if the Sabres don't win their two hockey games but it does put things in perspective. It is going to take 90-92 points to earn a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and that means the Sabres will need to win 8-10 games in their final 15. It's a tough task but one that this team can accomplish if they play as well as they are capable of playing.
Sabres Remaining Schedule
Let's try our luck at a couple more predictions. The Sabres only chance to make the playoffs is to take two points from the teams they are chasing in the standings. With that being said they need... two wins against Florida, two wins against Atlanta and two wins against Toronto. They would need single wins against Ottawa, NY Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens. That would give them a total of nine wins and 91 points in the standings. The remaining games are, home games against Philadelphia, New Jersey, Detroit and Boston and road games against Washington and Carolina. If they could win one of those games they could be looking at a 93 point season and a post-season berth.
I know this is an overly-optomistic look at the final 15 games but the Sabres can still make the playoffs. It looks bleak right now, especially after the loss last night but in reality I never expected them to win last night. The Flyers are a really good hockey team and they proved as much last night.
The season is not over yet. I'm sure you will see stories in the Buffalo News from Jerry Sullivan and Bucky Gleason telling you it is and that it's because of inept management but believe me it's not over yet. There is too much hockey left to be played.