Remember when Sabres hockey was fun to watch? I’m not talking about years ago, but just a couple of months ago.
It’s hard to get that lucky to win 10 games in a row, but that’s exactly what happened. The Sabres played some of their better hockey this season and narrowly won games that could have gone either way.
Nine of those contests were one-goal victories, four of which came in overtime and three by way of the shootout.
They defeated some great teams during that stretch, too, including the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins.
— Ben Mathewson (@Ben_Mathewson) January 4, 2019
Since then, they’ve been hard to watch.
Some of us bought into that 10-game streak, whether we want to admit it or not. It was fun, promising, and relieving to finally see the Sabres ascend to the top of the standings. And after that, all they would have to do is play somewhere around .500 hockey for the rest of the season in order to earn a playoff spot.
Not only did they drop the next five contests, but they’ve only managed to win six of 21 games. Going into the math on that isn’t worth it. That’s bad. It’s caused them to fall out of a playoff spot, two points behind the New York Islanders, who have two games in hand over Buffalo. They’re also three back of the Montreal Canadiens, who have played one more than Buffalo.
For most fans, this isn’t a horrible place for Buffalo to be in at this point of the season. Many media members and fans pictured Buffalo as a fringe playoff team before the season started, and that was an accurate prediction.
The Sabres aren’t that team that won 10 straight, but they’re also not the team that has lost 15 of the last 21 games. They’re a team that is somewhere in the middle of them both. We’ve just seen the best and worst of this team to an extreme level. You can take all 46 games they’ve played this season and reshuffle the results however you choose, but they’ve still won 23 and lost 23.
It’s not great, but it’s not horrible either. They’re in a position to fight for a playoff spot. Whether they actually get one can be decided by the team’s performance in the remaining 36 games. It’s not a bad position to be in.
They do have the next four on the road, but a bigger test may be the seven-game homestand that follows.
There’s no reason to panic, but there is reason to realize what kind of team we are watching.