It was a must have game and the Sabres didn't get it. They inched ever so closer to another season that ends after 82 games. While 16 teams will begin their quest for the Stanley Cup the Buffalo Sabres will be left to answer the questions of why they missed the playoffs once again.
There is still a mathmatical possibility of the Sabres making the playoffs but it will take a near miracle for that to happen. The Sabres would have to win all three of their remaining games while the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers both lose two out of three to finish the season.
The Sabres came out flying tonight. They seemed to feed off their third period comeback attempt on Saturday and really took play to the Wings. I estimated the Sabres were out-chancing the Wings by a 5-1 margin in the first 10 minutes but Osgood made all the saves.
As the Wings settled down and seemed to start taking control there was the feeling of doom that started to settle in. As soon as the Red Wings scored a power play goal to go ahead 1-0 it appeared the game was already over.
There was never any question about the Sabres effort tonight; instead there was a question of their talent. The Detroit Red Wings looked like a team that is playing for the Presidents Trophy and the Sabres looked like a team that is fighting to get one of the last playoff spots. In other words this game was very predictable before it even started.
Another Special Teams Failure
For all the complaining we have done about the officiating in this league, tonight was the exact opposite. The Sabres got all the calls and were allowed to get away with quite a bit. The difference is that other teams have capitalized when Buffalo was called with penalties and the Sabres did not capitalize tonight.
Buffalo finished 0-for-4 on the power play and the Wings were 1-for-2 but the second power play was only three seconds long. This has been a disturbing trend down the stretch and needs to be mentioned as part of the problem with the Sabres season.
No Vanek Down the Stretch
It's possible that Thomas Vanek was playing poorly tonight. It's even possible that he has been downright bad lately. It is still inexcusable that he is on the bench with an offensive zone face-off in the final minute of the game when trailing by two. Vanek has thrived on scoring goals in the paint all season and that is exactly what you are hoping for with a minute left to play.
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The Sabres head north of the border to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs as they try to hang on to their very slim playoff hopes.