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Buffalo Sabres Playoff Hopes

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Last night I stayed up really late to work on this great post about the Sabres playoff chances and of course it's only fitting that I lost the post.  I hope that is not a sign of things to come for the Sabres.  If Buffalo is going to make the playoffs it will not be easy.  The Sabres currently have 73 points, three out of eighth place but more importantly 19 away from Mirtle's magic number of 92.  In looking at the schedule it will not be easy to get 19 points which amounts to a 9-4-1 record.

Games Remaining:
Home (7): NY Rangers (79), Carolina Hurricanes (77), Tampa Bay Lightning (59), Toronto Maple Leafs (70), Ottawa Senators (81), Montreal Canadiens (83), Boston Bruins (77)

Away (7): Carolina Hurricanes (77), Pittsburgh Penguins (83), (2) Toronto Maple Leafs (70), Ottawa Senators (81), Montreal Canadiens (83), Boston Bruins (77)

Let's assume that the Sabres can win enough games to get 19 points who can they catch?  Let's take a look at the other teams in the playoff race and the chances of Buffalo catching them.  I don't think that Buffalo will catch New Jersey and Pittsburgh so I left them out.

Montreal Canadiens

Games Remaining: 14
Points Ahead: 10
Last 10 games: 7-3-0
Maximum Points: 111
To 92: 4-9-1

It is highly unlikely that Buffalo would be able to catch Montreal in the standings.  The Habs lead Buffalo by 10 points with only 14 games left and they are also playing very well.  The Sabres only chance to catch Montreal would be to get really hot and hope that 20 year old rookie goalie Carey Price buckles under the pressure.  The Habs obviously have confidence in Price because they traded away Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline.  Price has lived up to the hype at every level winning a gold medal for Canada in the World Junior Championships and a Calder Cup with the Hamilton Bulldogs last year.

Ottawa Senators

Games Remaining: 13
Points Ahead: 8
Last 10 games: 3-5-2
Maximum Points: 107
To 92: 5-7-1

The Ottawa Senators were the best team in the Eastern Conference, and maybe the league for two months of the season but recently everything has fallen apart for Ottawa.  It would be a minor miracle for Ottawa to miss the playoffs but it's certainly possible.  The have had numerous distractions including the antics of goalie Ray Emery which may have cost John Paddock his job.  Bryan Murray has returned to bench with the hopes of rekindling the magic from last year but it's impossible to ignore that it may be too late.  Although Buffalo is eight points behind the Sens they are ripe for the picking and with two games remaining between the teams Buffalo could make up some points.

New York Rangers

Games Remaining: 14
Points Ahead: 6
Last 10 games: 7-0-3
Maximum Points: 107
To 92: 6-7-1

The Rangers have been an up and down team all season but have not lost in regulation in their last 10 games.  If the Rangers can keep up their current pace they will have no problem making the playoffs and Buffalo will have no chance of catching them.  If you look at the rest of the season it would imply that the Rangers will cool off but don't be so sure.  The Rangers have plenty of veteran leadership that will help guide them through the stretch run.  A team with Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan will not crumble in the final 14 games.  Also don't forget that world class goalie Henrik Lundqvist is manning the pipes for the Blueshirts.  If Buffalo will have any opportunity to catch the Rangers they will have to beat them on Monday at the HSBC Arena.

Boston Bruins

Games Remaining: 15
Points Ahead: 4
Last 10 games: 6-2-2
Maximum Points: 107
To 92: 7-7-1

The Bruins have earned a total of 14 points in their last 10 games which is pretty good but the have been destroyed in their last two games.  Washington beat the Bruins 10-2 on Monday night and the Bruins were so upset they followed it up with a 8-2 loss the Laughs (oh I mean Leafs).  In my opinion the Bruins have over-achieved all season and if not for some ridiculously good goaltending they would not be in the hunt.  I think that Boston can be caught pretty easily and the Sabres have two more games with them as well.

Philadelphia Flyers

Games Remaining: 14
Points Ahead: 3
Last 10 games: 4-3-3
Maximum Points: 104
To 92: 8-6-0

The Sabres and Flyers always seem to be linked in some way so it's only fitting that they are competing for the final playoff spots.  The Sabres and Flyers have already played four times so they will not have an opportunity to play each other anymore.  The Flyers have numerous injuries and you never know what you are going to get with them.  They could easily go on a winning streak and ease into the playoffs or they could easily go into a slump and miss the playoffs easily.