In the past two seasons, the Sabres have hit the stretch run of the last twenty games trying to keep a playoff spot. This season, barring a major catastrophe, the Sabres should make the playoffs with ease and will most likely be competing for a division title. What will the stretch run look like though for the Buffalo Sabres and the Eastern Conference.
|@ Pittsburgh||Tue 03/02||7:30 PM EST|
|Washington||Wed 03/03||7:00 PM EST|
|Philadelphia||Fri 03/05||7:30 PM EST|
|@ New York Rangers||Sun 03/07||7:00 PM EST|
|Dallas||Wed 03/10||7:00 PM EST|
|Minnesota||Fri 03/12||7:30 PM EST|
|@ Detroit||Sat 03/13||7:00 PM EST|
|@ Atlanta||Tue 03/16||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Tampa Bay||Thu 03/18||7:30 PM EDT|
|@ Florida||Sat 03/20||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Carolina||Sun 03/21||5:00 PM EDT|
|Montreal||Wed 03/24||7:30 PM EDT|
|Ottawa||Fri 03/26||7:30 PM EDT|
|Tampa Bay||Sat 03/27||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Boston||Mon 03/29||7:00 PM EDT|
|Florida||Wed 03/31||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Toronto||Thu 04/01||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Montreal||Sat 04/03||7:00 PM EDT|
|New York Rangers||Tue 04/06||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Boston||Thu 04/08||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ Ottawa||Sat 04/10||7:00 PM EDT|
|@ New Jersey||Sun 04/11||5:00 PM EDT|
While the schedule may look a little ominous, including starting back against Pittsburgh and Washington and a five game road trip in March, it could be much worse. The Sabres expected winning percentage in March is .522 and in April is .480. The final six games are going to be the hardest for the Sabres with a three game road trip to close out the season.
Following the jump, we will take a look at the Eastern Conference and how the season should finish out.
First, a little background into how these standings were computed. These standings are projected standings using the Pythagenpuck technique. Goals for and goals against per game were computed for home games and road games separately for each team and then the opponents expected winning percentage for each game were averaged together. I kept decimal points in the standings to alleviate some rounding errors. Obviously, there is no such thing as fractional wins and losses.
The Eastern Conference will see a shakeup at the bottom come the end of the season. Currently, positions 6-11 are separated by five points. Those five teams should continue to occupy positions 6-11, but will not be in the order they are now.
|Eastern Conference||Wins||Losses||Overtime Losses||Points|
|2. New Jersey||48.01||29.96||4.03||100.05|
|9. Tampa Bay||36.63||30.58||14.79||88.04|
|11. New York Rangers||37.6||35.14||9.26||84.46|
The best news for Sabres fans is that the team is supposed to retake the Northeast division with a total of 99.08 points compared to the 96.25 points Ottawa should earn. Ottawa will have a harder March than the Sabres with an expected winning percentage of .494 for Ottawa compared to Buffalo's .522 with two more games. Buffalo will still have a game in hand to Ottawa when April starts as well.
The Atlanta Thrashers become the big winners in the stretch run, moving from 11th to 8th position with a total of roughly 89 points while the Montreal Canadiens become the big losers dropping from 8th to 10th. The Thrashers are projected to go 11.52-6.81-3.67 while the Canadiens should go 10.13-7.06-1.81 during the same stretch. The major reason for this shift should come in March as the Thrashers having an expected winning percentage of .562 in 17 games while the Canadiens have an expected winning percentage of .539 in 14 games.
These projected standings can change very quickly with the trade deadline approaching though. All of these numbers were based on previous performances and a team can heat up quickly heading into the final two months of the season. That is why they play the games though, right?