Is it hope, frustration, or anxiety that kept me from getting a good night's sleep last night?
There's no question that, at least mathematically, the Sabres have scraped and crawled their way back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. That said, try to keep the excitement to a minimum, because by “back into,” I really mean “barely alive.” Nevertheless, with 7-games remaining on the schedule, Buffalo have at least given themselves a chance, and offered their fans some interesting scoreboard watching opportunities in the upcoming days before they shuffle off to Atlanta to meet the Thrashers Wednesday night.
There's no doubt in my mind that when I look back on the 20008-09 season, I'll remember 2-games vividly. One will of course be the San Jose game that followed the horrible tragedy in Buffalo in mid-February. The second though, will unquestionably be last night's game in Montreal's Bell Centre. Having not won in Montreal all year, and having not taken 4-points in back-to-back games all season, the Sabres dug deep after blowing a 2nd period 2-goal lead, fought back to tie the game, and then gutted out a marathon shootout win in which Ryan Miller single-handedly gave the city of Buffalo a realistic belief that his boys could potentially pull off a run similar to that of the 1999-00 season.
Despite my enjoyment of the game, and the fact that it's nice to see my team play the way the have over the last 4-days, I can't help but feel a great deal of frustration as a result of what has ultimately taken place in the month of March. The losses to the Islanders, Senators, and most glaringly the blown lead against the Thrashers, have put the Sabres in a position they need not be in. If they could have back only a pair of the 7-points they pissed away in total during those contests, there would be a real buzz about the final 2-weeks of the season. Instead, there is still a great deal that must happen for Buffalo to get in, and that daunting list begins with Buffalo grabbing, in my opinion, 12-14 points out of their last 7-games.
For those interested in a breakdown, I have one. Much of the talk around Western New York surrounds Montreal and Florida – we must catch both. However, a new team has suddenly crept back into contention; the New York Rangers. In many ways, this, along with the Panthers, is likely the scenario that could get Buffalo in. The Rangers loss yesterday, coupled with the Sabres' win, puts them 5-points up on us, and sees them giving up a game at hand. Moreover, of all 3-team's remaining schedules, their's is the most brutal. In fact, all 6 of their remaining games are against the Eastern Conference's top 8-teams. As for Montreal and Florida, their remaining contests are mixed with some tough games, and some gimmees. And frankly, I just don't see Montreal folding enough down the stretch for the Sabres to make a move.
With all the talk about those schedules though, Buffalo does not have an easy road ahead of them either. They close the season out playing 7-games in 11-nights, and they have a 3-game stretch that includes 3-games in 4-nights against Washington, New Jersey and Detroit. Not good! Nevertheless, when there is hope, there can at least be some excitement.
About the Author
Written by Tim Anderson