Sabres Could Face Uphill Battle in NHL’s Temporary Realignment

Pittsburgh, Washington among potential new division foes

Buffalo Sabres fans got another glimpse at what the NHL’s temporary division re-alignment could look like for the upcoming season, which will reportedly begin in mid-January.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun Tweeted out the re-alignment, with a couple caveats: nothing is absolutely confirmed, it’s all still subject to change, and the Board of Governors and NHLPA still have to vote to approve the new format.

The Sabres’ potential division is certainly interesting, and not necessarily in a great way for Buffalo, who is joined by some of the league’s tough contenders including Washington, Pittsburgh and the Rangers. Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Alexis Lafrenière would be familiar faces in the coming season if things hold.

Over the past three seasons, the Sabres have won just 35 percent of their games against the teams in their reported new division. Overall, they’ve gone 21-33-6 against these teams in the past three seasons.

Here’s how the Sabres have fared over the past three seasons against each of the teams in their potential division:

vs. Boston Bruins: 4-6-1

vs. New Jersey Devils: 4-4

vs. New York Islanders: 2-4-2

vs. New York Rangers: 2-5-1

vs. Philadelphia Flyers: 2-6

vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: 4-4-1

vs. Washington Capitals: 3-4-1

While the Sabres would maintain a divisional rivalry with the Boston Bruins, that’s pretty much the only thing that’s close to normal.

With an All-Canadian division, the Sabres of course miss out on typical divisional rivals like Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. Tampa Bay, Florida and Detroit are also in another division according to the current plan.

Of course, as we’ve been reminded, none of this is final just yet. The NHL is reportedly slated to start the 2021 season on January 13, which is just over a month away, so things will have to fall into place quite quickly over the next few weeks. The vote on the divisional realignment could come later this week, which would then pave the way for scheduling and further planning.

As always, stay tuned to Die by the Blade for all your Sabres content, including a coming piece from Jason in which he’ll be projecting the Sabres in their new division using his WAR lineup tool.