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Can Eichel lead Sabres to the playoffs?

Forward in consideration for Hart Trophy



Jack Eichel is in his 5th NHL season and has yet to make his playoffs debut. When he was drafted, you would have hoped by now that the Sabres rebuild would officially be deemed complete. At the very least, maybe a playoff appearance or two would have happened.

Not the case, and this year doesn’t look like it will happen either.

But there’s still half of a season remaining and the Sabres are right there. There have been two kinds of Sabres hockey this season – absolutely horrible and playoff-caliber. We’ve seen Buffalo be inconsistent and frustrating. They’ll put together a nice run only to go on a losing streak to cancel it all out.

We saw on Saturday how much the city of Buffalo and Western New York rallied for the whole week leading up to the Buffalo Bills playoff game. Not that Eichel really needs any more motivation, but I have to think that he wants the Sabres to get that same kind of attention. And it’d be for at least 4 playoff games, instead of just one.

“I want to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo. I dream about it very often.” – Eichel

That’s a great sentiment at all, but Eichel is easily having the best season of his career and the Sabres aren’t in contention right now. It’d be great if he could carry the team, but General Manager Jason Botterill has to step in and help.

The addition of Michael Frolik adds a little bit of forward depth which should help.  Frolik is expected to make his Buffalo debut on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.  The odds page at Sports Betting Dime has the Sabres as a road underdog Thursday night, despite the Blues having lost three out of their last four.



Without Jeff Skinner and Victor Olofsson out for a while, the Sabres are not only going to have to fight through their absences, but they’re just going to have to survive. The Trade Deadline is still many weeks away, but it’s frustrating to watch Botterill not get more forward help sooner. Calling players up from Rochester isn’t the answer.

The team is exactly where I expected them to be this season. They’re a fringe playoff team that should be able to finish around the 8th, 9th, or 10th spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re on pace for 86 points this season, which would be their most since the 2011-12 season when they had 89 and made the playoffs.

86 points probably won’t be enough this year but this team desperately needs to end their playoff drought. They’ve rattled off two straight wins and are on a 4-day break before they host the Blues on Thursday. It won’t be an easy game (none of them are), but Buffalo has to figure out a way to string together victories.



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NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
7044-14-12100
7043-21-692
7036-25-981
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
6941-20-890
6941-21-789
6940-23-686
Wild Card leaders:
6838-25-581
7033-22-1581
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6835-23-1080
7037-28-579
6935-26-878
7131-31-971
6930-31-868
6928-29-1268
7125-34-1262
7117-49-539
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
7142-19-1094
7042-20-892
6937-24-882
Pacific Division Leaders:
7139-24-886
7137-25-983
7036-27-779
Wild Card leaders:
7137-28-680
6935-26-878
-----------------------------------------
6936-27-678
6935-27-777
7033-29-874
7032-30-872
7129-33-967
7029-35-664
7029-36-563