The Buffalo Sabres have officially reached the halfway point of their season. With 41 games under their belt, the Sabres are sitting - just barely - in a playoff spot, occupying the top wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. They earned 50 points in the first half of the season, putting them on pace to register a 100-point season. If they hit that mark, it’ll be the first time the Sabres have done so since the 2009-10 season, when they registered 100 points and went 45-27-10.
At the halfway point of the season, the Sabres are 22-13-6, which is by no means bad. But they’ve lost six of their last ten games and have fallen off the map a bit since their 10-game winning streak earlier in the season.
Standings-wise, the Sabres are sixth in the Eastern Conference, tied with Boston (who they face Saturday night) and 16 points behind the conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The Sabres are 11th in the NHL.
Despite their struggles as of late, the Sabres still have a positive goal differential (plus-1). But what happens in the second half of the season will be the real test in figuring out whether or not the Sabres make the playoffs, and if they do find themselves in a playoff position at season’s end, where they’ll be in the standings.
For Buffalo, the second half of the season is pretty evenly split between home games and road trips. They’ll face a five-game road trip between January 14 and January 30 before playing the next season games on home ice - and then hitting the road for three straight to follow.
It’ll be important for the Sabres to build strings of wins in the second half of the season. They’ve been on and off since the winning streak and subsequent losing streak, but need to find some consistency in their game here in the second half. After dropping three straight - to St. Louis, Boston, and the Islanders - the Sabres won their last game against Florida. Building upon those wins will give them essential points for the end of the season push.
More than half of the Sabres’ remaining games this season will be against Eastern Conference opponents, many of whom are in the playoff push right alongside Buffalo. It won’t be an easy second half of the season - particularly if Jack Eichel’s injury proves to be more than day-to-day, or if they can’t string together more than one or two wins at a time, but whether or not the Sabres’ season will end in April or beyond will be determined by this second half.