Before this lockout-shortened season began, many said that the Sabres couldn’t afford to get off to a slow start, which is what they had done the past two seasons. Now, we’re 24 games in and Buffalo has just a 9-13-2 record, certainly not where they were looking to be at this point in the season.
The Sabres have played 24 games, putting their regular season at the halfway mark. Their latest five game stretch has helped them salvage some points, but they still sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
Although the Sabres are just four points behind the Rangers for the 8th spot in the conference, New York has three games in hand on the Sabres. In fact, 13 other teams have between one and four games in hand on Buffalo, which could hurt the Sabres down the stretch.
The Sabres are on pace to finish with 40 points, which will likely not be enough to make the playoffs. The Rangers are on track to record 50 points, giving the Sabres a tough hill to climb. In order to finish with 50 points the Sabres will need to a record of at least 15-9 over the final 24 games, but that is likely the minimum.
Regardless of how you look at it, the Sabres find themselves performing below expectations, and will need a strong 2nd half performance (again) if they wish to see the postseason for the first time since the 2010-11 season.
The Sabres will have to jump over five teams, and possibly seven if Washington and Florida can win their games in hand over Buffalo. The chances don’t look good for a postseason in Buffalo, but we have seen what this team can do in the 2nd half.
The Sabres still have games remaining against every team in the Eastern Conference with the exception of Carolina. Buffalo still have two games each against Washington, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, Philadelphia and the Rangers, all teams that are surrounding the Sabres.
Whether you’re an optimist or pessimist, the bottom line is that the Sabres need to start winning games. Do they have what it takes to turn this season around?