When I took a look at the Sabres schedule back in January, I figured that the team would continue with the lack of winning and continue on their path toward a lottery pick. What they ended up doing was going 8-3-1 and inch closer to a playoff position. With three games in hand on the Atlanta Thrashers and one game in hand on the Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes.
So, what does the month of February bring for the Buffalo Sabres? First, the Sabres will play twelve games in the month, eight at home and four on the road including a six game homestand at the end of the month. The Sabres face both Montreal and Atlanta once in the month, Montreal on the 15th and Atlanta on the 23rd. There will be 10 games against the Eastern Conference and two against the Western, St. Louis and Detroit both at home. Here is the schedule in depth.
|2/8||@ Tampa Bay|
|2/13||vs. NY Islanders|
|2/18||vs. St. Louis|
The Sabres will have three back to back weekends: February 4th and 5th, February 15th and 16th, and February 25th and 26th. Ryan Miller has played 26 straight games leading into the month and will most likely play 10 if not all 12 of the games this month. The one date of note is the trade deadline that comes on the 28th this year.
The Sabres schedule has some easy components in it and the team is expected to win .547% of the games. This would give the team an expected record of 7-4-1 on the month and a 30-25-6 record for a total of 66 points at the end of February. The "easier" games for the Sabres are both of the games against Toronto and a game each with the Senators and Islanders. The 'hardest" games are the games against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Montreal.
The Atlanta Thrashers will play 11 games this month, six at home and five on the road. The Thrashers face the Sabres once as we mentioned and the Hurricanes twice which could cause a leapfrog in the standings. They are expected to have a .567 winning percentage in the month and finish February with a 30-23-10 record which would be good for 70 points.
The Montreal Canadiens are playing 12 games this month, eight at home, three on the road, and the Heritage Classic in Calgary. They play Buffalo and Carolina each once in the month, both at home. The Canadiens are expected to have the second easiest schedule in the month with a .565 expected winning percentage. They should finish the month with a 7-4-1 record and 34-22-6 overall.
Finally, the Carolina Hurricanes will play 13 games in the month and have the hardest schedule in the month. They have to play seven games on the road and six at home, including a four game homestand at the end of the month. They get the luxury of playing the Devils three times in the month but also have to face the Flyers twice as well as Boston and Pittsburgh. They are expected to have a 6-5-2 record which would leave them at 31-24-8 at the end of the month.
Here is how the month should end at the end of February:
The Sabres would gain a game in hand on the Hurricanes and lose a game in hand to the Thrashers, which would leave them with two games in hand on both teams. If the month plays out this way, it sets up for a competitive stretch heading to the end of the season. The main question though is who will outperform their expected record and who will falter?