The Stretch Run And The Buffalo Sabres

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. 


Sabres Schedule

@ 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
1. Washington 51.68 21.12 9.2 112.56
2. New Jersey 48.01 29.96 4.03 100.05
3. Buffalo 44.23 27.15 10.62 99.08
4. Pittsburgh 46.2 30.51 5.29 97.69
5. Ottawa 45.52 31.27 5.21 96.25
6. Philadelphia 37.95 29.02 15.03
90.93
7. Boston 43.28 34.62 4.1 90.66
8. Atlanta 37.52 30.81 13.67 88.71
9. Tampa Bay 36.63 30.58 14.79 88.04
10. Montreal 39.13 35.06 7.81 86.07
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?

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