While reading Jasper's Rink (to stay fair and balanced), I came across an article on the "10 (other) Wins the Caps may regret" if they miss out on the playoffs. It was a great article, so I wanted to do the same thing. However, our season is not just about a team that lost some games they should have won, we are also a team that showed some serious grit, earning points they had no business gaining. And of course, we had the crushing injuries, that turned a cup contender into a team in a dogfight for 8th place.
But first briefly the games that did not make the cut:
October 18, 2011 - Sabres 3 - Habs 1 - Miller stops 40 of 41 and steals a game away from the Habs.
October 27, 2011 - Blue Jackets 2 - Sabres 4 - Enroth saves 41 of 43 and steals a game from Columbus, starts talk about trading Miller.
February 29, 2012 - Sabres 2 - Ducks 0 - Sabres control the game as Miller announces he's back with a 43 save shutout in Anaheim.
March 3, 2012 - Sabres 5 - Canucks 3 - Overshadowed by the CoHo-Kass trade, the Sabres get 3 early goals, and show glimpses of the team we thought we had in October.
November 19, 2011 - Coyotes 4 - Sabres 2 - Phoenix ties the game and takes the lead for good by scoring two goals in 66 seconds.
February 1, 2012 - Rangers 1 - Sabres 0 (SO) - In a battle of unbreakable goalies, Rangers steal the extra point in the shootout.
February 16, 2012 - Sabres 2 - Flyers 7. Sabres take 2 goal lead in the first period over the Flyers, then surrender 7 straight. Admittedly the only time I washed my hands of the team this year.
See the 6 Huge Wins, 6 Awful Losses and 5 Bad Injuries That Brought Us Here after the jump...
Huge Win #6 March 12, 2012 Habs 2 - Sabres 3 (OT)
5 Seconds away from 2 points, the Sabres let the Habs tie the game. Spoke of as a turning point, instead of crumbling, the Sabres regrouped, and we got a glimpse of the Old Tyler Myers, aggressively jumping in the offensive zone and scoring the game winner.
Awful Loss #6 March 14, 2012 Avalanche 5 - Sabres 4 (SO)
The Sabres just escaped a game where they let Montreal tie the game late. There is no way they could allow it again right? Wrong. With less than 2 seconds left Colorado scored. This time however, Buffalo was not able to win in OT and lost the extra point in the shootout.
Bad Injury #5 November 19, 2011 - Coyotes 4 - Sabres 2
The game just missed the cut of most Awful losses, but the biggest loss (pun intended) was the injury to Tyler Myers. The injury put Myers out for 19 games, and in that stretch the Sabres went 6-9-4.
Awful Loss #5 December 7, 2011 - Flyers 5 - Sabres 4 (OT)
The Sabres put 3 goals on the Flyers in the first period, the perfect period until they allowed a Talbot goal with 1 second left in the period. The Flyers took that momentum to take a 4-3 lead after two. Stafford scored in the 3rd to salvage a point, but the game was an utter waste of a great start, and an utter waste of the much needed 2nd point.
Huge Win #5 March 27, 2012 Sabres 5 - Capitals 1
In the "game 7" the Sabres dominated anchored by 44 saves by Ryan Miller and a shorthanded goal by Jason Pominville. With the win the Sabres take control of the 8th seed.
Bad Injury #4 March 27, 2012 Sabres 5 - Capitals 1
Arguably our best defender, Christian Ehrhoff goes out early in our biggest game. Buffalo also lost Sekera, and at one point had Robyn Regher in the box. In the stretch run, and if the Sabres get in the playoffs, the most experienced big game D man we have, will be missed. The injury put Ehrhoff out 3 games and counting, in that stretch the Sabres are 1-2.
Awful Loss #4 October 14, 2011 - Hurricanes 4 - Sabres 3
There was nothing special about the Sabres special teams, they went 0-6 on the power play, allowed 2 shorthanded goals, and 57 seconds after Stafford tied the game, Buffalo could not kill the Canes power play, as Jeff Skinner scored the game winner with 1:24 left in the game.
Huge Win #4 March 1, 2012 - Sabres 1 - Sharks 0
Ryan Miller's "I'm Back" shutout tour rolls on, as he follows his 43 save shutout the day before with a 39 save shutout of San Jose.
Bad Injury #3 March 30, 2012 Penguins 5 - Sabres 3
Arguably our 2nd best defender after Christian Ehrhoff, Tyler Myers was going to have to step up to replace the injured Ehrhoff. After blocking a shot however, Meyers couldn't Step anywhere...with what is either a broken or badly bruised foot. The injury put Myers out 2 games and counting, in that stretch the Sabres are 1-1 and struggling defensively.
Awful Loss #3 January 15, 2012 - Sabres 2 - Islanders 4
Sabres frantically trying to score and really outplaying the Islanders, but the Islanders are full of talented snipers, and Grabner had an opening and buried a goal to put the Islanders up 1 late. Thomas Vanek our best sniper 90 seconds later was awarded a penalty shot...he beat Nabokov, but couldn't beat the post. Sabres lose a tough one.
Huge Win #3 March 10, 2012 - Sabres 4 - Ottawa 3
The Senators go up 1, and the familiar feeling of "no one will step up" arose. The legend of Foligno was born however, when his centering pass deflected in to tie the game. A re energized Tyler Ennis wins the game in the Shootout, snatching a huge 2 points from the jaws of defeat.
Bad Injury #2 December 17, 2011 Sabres 3 - Penguins 8
The strongest member of our stretch run (besides Miller) has been Tyler Ennis. But before now, Ennis has been invisible. A big reason was the high ankle sprain he suffered early in the season. This game however was Ennis' 8th game back from the injury...he re-aggravated the ankle. The injury cost Ennis 17 games, in those games the Sabres went 4-11-2, and Ennis' return on 1/31/12 coincides with the time when the Sabres started to show life.
Awful Loss #2 November 23, 2011 - Bruins 4 - Sabres 3
In the first meeting after the Miller hit, Gaustad got beat up by Lucic but Bruin Killer Thomas Vanek scored to give Buffalo a 2-0 lead in the 1st. Winning after all would be the sweetest revenge. But Boston chipped away at the lead sent the game into OT and won in a unsatisfying shootout.
Huge Win #2 February 10, 2012 - Stars 2 - Sabres 3
January was the meh they aren't as bad as they were in December period...February was will they make a run or will they die off period...This game it looked like Buffalo would die off, as they couldn't crack the Stars. In the 3rd, Vanek scored his 20th and Roy tied the game with 39 seconds left in the game. A tense shootout followed as the 5th shooter Nathan Gerbe Clinched it for the Sabres.
Bad Injury #1 November 12, 2011 - Sabres 2 - Bruins 6
10-5 going into the game, November 12th was the day the season died. Lucic ran Miller, the team was portrayed as soft and gutless, and Boston piled on the goals... The injury cost Miller 9 games, in those games the Sabres went 3-5-1, but the real damage occured during the months of December and January, Miller was shaky when he returned, Gaustad under fire for his toughness and the team was a mess.
Awful Loss #1 October 29, 2011 - Panthers 3 - Sabres 2
Up 2 -1, Florida tied the game with 3:58 in the game. With 1:43 left, Florida netted the game winner on the power play. Only the 10th game of the year, it turned out to be a big one, as Florida sits only 4 points ahead of Buffalo...if Buffalo won in this game, Buffalo would be tied with Florida with 90 points, and have the tiebreaker over Florida.
And finishing on a high note:
Huge Win #1 April 3, 2012 - Leafs 5 - Sabres 6
No explanation needed, down 3 goals in a must win game. The Sabres score 2 in the second, and 3 zany goals in the 3rd before Derek Roy finished the game on the power play in overtime. Without those 2 points there is no way we would be realistically still in the playoff hunt.