It's another season finished and another season of the Sabres missing the playoffs. There were times this season when the Sabres not only looked like a playoff team but possibly a top four team. There were other times when this team looked like they couldn't beat the Niagara University hockey team. As BlackCapricorn stated in the comments, they were consistently inconsistent.
I'm not sure it was as much inconsistency as we make it out to be. It was more about playing to the level of their competition. This has been the trend all season and it eventually did this team in at the end. A win here or there against the weaker teams in the league and this is a playoff team. I wrote a piece way back in November about this very topic and it still rings true right now.
When it's all said and done, the Sabres finished four points behind the New York Rangers that finished in seveth place and two points behind the Montreal Canadiens who finished in eighth. Both the Rangers and Canadiens won the games against the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference and the Sabres wasted those opportunities.
Of the five teams that finished behind the Sabres in the Eastern Conference, they had a winning record against only the Toronto Maple Leafs.
|Ottawa||1-4-1, 3pts||4-2-0, 8pts||2-2-0, 4pts|
|Toronto||5-1-0, 10pts||3-3-0, 6ts||1-1-2, 4pts|
|Atlanta||0-0-4, 4pts||2-2-0, 4pts||2-0-2, 6pts|
|Tampa Bay||2-2-0, 4pts||2-2-0,4pts||4-0-0, 8ts|
|NY Islanders||2-2-0, 4pts||2-0-2, 6pts||5-1-0, 10pts|
|Total||10-9-5, 25pts||13-9-2, 29pts||14-4-4, 32pts|
By looking at the chart above it's easy to see where the Sabres chances were wasted this season. If the Sabres get a couple more wins against teams like Atlanta or Ottawa than they are still playing right now and there are no talks about who will or won't get fired (more on that later tonight).
There are other reasons that the Sabres missed the playoffs for the second season in a row and the fifth time in seven seasons. Ryan Miller missing a month of hockey hurt this team considerably. It may be the wrong mix of players, it may be poor coaching, it could even be the injury to Thomas Vanek. All those reasons could have contributed to missing the playoffs but two more wins against the worst of the East would have made a big difference.
It's never a good thing when your team misses the playoffs but it;s especially painful with this Sabres team. I already noted how poor they were against the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference but they were equally as good against the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Sabres were 19-14-3 against the eight teams that are still alive in the Eastern Conference and 22-15-3 against the teams that finished ahead of them in the standings. They had a winning record against five of the playoff teams and only had a losing record against the Flyers.
|Sabres Record||Overall Record|
As much as we criticize this team for a lack of talent, a lack of desire or a lack of consistency there is no denying the talent on this team. You don't beat good teams without talent and this team can beat anyone (except the Flyers, Red Wings and Ducks) on any given night. They have the next five months to figure out the problem and I hope they do. Too muc talent to miss the playoffs every year.