Predicting the Points: Part One-2011 Schedule

"From this point forward, the Buffalo Sabres' reason for existence is to win the Stanley Cup" ~Terry Pegula

Perhaps lost amidst the other happenings of this past weekend (the draft, a trade, and the purchase of the Amerks) was the release of the schedule.  Last year I predicted 110 points.  Ok so I was a bit off.  Fourteen to be exact.  But who's counting?

While we're a little less than a week from free agency and no one knows what the opening night lineup will look like, it's time that I break out the crystal ball.  This two part series will try to answer how many points the Sabres will record in the upcoming season.  After the jump we'll look at the 2011 portion of the schedule.

OCTOBER

Outlook: 10 games (5 "home"/5 "away")

The Good: Roadtrip!  The Sabres will open the season by "hosting" the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, Finland (even though we don't have any Finns on our roster Joel Armia notwithstanding).  The next night we will "visit" the Los Angeles Kings in Berlin, Germany (though the only German likely to dress will be Sabre Jochen Hecht).  Buffalo will truly begin the home part of their schedule when they square off against Carolina at HSBC on the 14th.  They finish the month with three straight home games (Tampa, Columbus, Florida).

The Bad: Roadtrip part two.  After the Carolina contest the Sabres will find themselves on the road for a week, playing for games, three against playoff teams (Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Tampa).  There are two back-to-back slates.

My Prediction: 11 points.  The Sabres could be off to another slow start thanks to the two long road trips.  But they should be able to handle the Panthers twice, the Bluejackets, and the Hurricanes.  A split with Tampa and another point seems quite doable.

NOVEMBER

Outlook: 14 games (9 home/5 away)

The Good: Nine home games.  Only five games against playoff teams.  An eighteen day stretch of seven of eight games at home (counting three games and a week in October).

The Bad: Four straight weekends of back-to-back bouts.  Six games in nine nights, including road games at division rivals Boston and Montreal.

My Prediction: 20 points.  I have Buffalo beating Philly (2nd) in their first meeting since last years playoff series and Calgary, as Robyn Regehr should be fired up about playing his old mates.  The Sabres should split with Boston and Ottawa and should take care of business against the Jets, the Devils, the Bryzgalov-less Coyotes, @ the Bluejackets, and the Islanders.  Two more points elsewhere makes 20.

DECEMBER

Outlook: 14 games (8 home/6 away)

The Good: A twenty-one day, eight in nine games home stand (including two games and five days in November), with the only roadie coming in Nashville (3rd).

The Bad: The schedule making Santa didn't do us any favors with seven games against playoff foes.  Alas, four more weekends with two consecutive games.

My Prediction: 15 points.  This is a difficult month to determine.  I believe the Sabres could start the month with three straight losses (Detroit-2nd, @ Nashville-3rd, Philadelphia-7th).  Four straight home wins (the Panthers-9th, the Rangers-10th, the Senators-13th, and the Maple Leafs-16th) should right the ship.  A split with Washington and Ottawa plus three more points is possible.

2011 Total: 38 games (22 home/16 away).  46 points out of a possible 76.  This is a conservative number (I hope) given my prediction last year.  It would be nice if the Sabres could add a few more points given that they will have only 19 home games in 2012.

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