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Sabres Devasting Loss Does not Crush Playoff Hopes

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I understand why fan emotions ran high on Sunday night after the Sabres let a two goal lead slip away against the Nashville Predators. I get that people were upset, but I don't understand the people who think this is not a playoff team. I would love to hear the definition of a playoff team.

The Sabres have been on an incredible run that seen them leap from the bottom of the conference in November to eighth place in the middle of March. Many of us, myself included, didn't think it could happen and yet they did it. Sunday was a crushing defeat but they still earned a point and they are now three points ahead of the ninth place Hurricanes.

There is a saying that stats never lie but they can be used to deceive. People who are saying the Sabres are not a playoff team are pointing to the teams 16-22 record against playoff teams but even that number is not accurate. Whether fair or not, the NHL still awards a loser point which makes the Sabres record 16-18-4 against playoff teams.

The Sabres overall record against teams in a playoff position is not impressive, but they were 3-12-1 in the first two months of the season and only 6-14-2 at the end of 2010. Since January 1 the team is an impressive 10-4-2 against teams that are now considered playoff teams. That ranks them among the best in the Eastern Conference.

More stats after the jump.

vs. Playoff Teams vs. Non-Playoff Teams Total since Jan. 1
Team GP Record PTS GP Record PTS GP Record PTS
New Jersey 16 11-5-0 22 19 13-4-2 28 35 24-9-2 50
Philadelphia 18 11-5-2 24 16 10-4-2 22 34 21-9-4 46
Buffalo 16 10-4-2 22 19 10-6-3 23 35 20-10-5 45
Boston 17 6-7-5 17 17 14-3-0 28 35 20-10-5 45
Montreal 21 12-6-3 27 13 7-4-2 16 34 19-10-5 43
Toronto 21 10-10-1 21 15 9-2-4 22 36 19-12-5 43
Washington 18 9-8-1 19 13 11-1-1 23 31 20-9-2 42
Tampa Bay 16 7-6-3 17 18 10-5-3 23 34 17-11-6 40
Pittsburgh 20 10-8-2 22 14 7-4-3 17 34 17-12-5 39
Carolina 17 7-8-2 16 18 9-6-3 21 35 16-14-5 37
NY Rangers 20 10-9-1 21 14 7-7-0 14 34 17-16-1 35

The above chart clearly shows the Sabres have been just as good as any team in the entire conference. The Philadelphia Flyers are currently the top seed in the conference and the Sabres are a disappointing overtime loss away from having the same record as them since January 1.

The Hurricanes and the Rangers are the two teams the Sabres are battling for the final two spots in the conference and they have been average at best over the past two and half months.

The loss on Sunday will certainly sting because of the way they lost but in the end it doesn't really matter. It is what the Sabres do in their final 10 games that matters most. If they continue to play the way they have since January 1, they will be a playoff team just like Lindy predicted before the new year.