Heading into the final 5… currently in a playoff spot.
There is no denying the Sabres recent streak has been impressive.
When Lindy Ruff stated
he wanted the team needed to win the remaining 10 games, the players listened, and they have won the last 5 with 5 more to go. It’s not just that they have won these games, it is that they have done so in a spectacular fashion.
First was the 7-3 stomping over the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 19th.
Next was the 3-0 victory over the now rebuilding Montreal Canadiens two days later.
Two days after that they handed the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers a 4 -1 defeat.
Followed by a 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild the next day in which Minnesota scored first and the Sabres started the game looking worn out from the back-to-back games. This win temporarily put the Sabres into 8th, until the Wild then lost to the Capitals the next day, putting the the Capitals and Sabres in a tie for 8th place, with the Capitals strongly holding the edge in tiebreakers.
Tuesday, the Sabres met the Caps in D.C. in what might have been like a game 7, but might not have. I’ll say it was like a game 5. The humiliating loss for Washington and a powerful statement made by the Sabres in that game now have the Sabres controlling their own fate the rest of the season.
Through it all you have had astonishing performances from Ryan Miller. Tyler Ennis is rejuvenating the season for himself and Stafford, and giving a rookie one of the best NHL starts in this generation of hockey players. Alexander Sultzer, originally seen as just an extra piece to the Hodgson for Kassian/Gragnani trade has been a pleasant surprise on defense, and the defense is doing a wonderful job of making Ryan Miller’s work easier in general. That Hodgson kid has starting putting up much needed points as well, after going pointless in his first ten games in the blue and gold.
Looking forward, tomorrow is the first of a set of back-to-back games. They face the Penguins in Buffalo (who play against the Islanders
tonight in a matter of minutes) and are in Toronto Saturday. Tuesday they face the Leafs again in their last home game, and then go against the Flyers and Bruins to close out the regular season. Not an easy schedule by any means.
But hopes are high. In fact, passing Ottawa for seventh is entirely possible. It’s even still mathematically possible that the Sabres catch the Bruins (though not likely). Wouldn’t that make for a lovely final game of the regular season? One month ago if someone had told me the Sabres would even be in reach of the playoffs at this point I would have laughed in their face and called them a moron. Now the fan side of me believes. With each win my skepticism lowers more and more.
Finally, the Sabres have signed Brian Flynn of the University of Maine to a 1 year entry-level contract. He will finish the remainder of this year in Rochester. More info here and here. A quick search on youtube found this.
Here’s to hoping the Sabres can maintain the pace and playoffs on their own. And getting a little luck from Washington and Ottawa losing wouldn’t be a bad thing either.