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Make It or Break It

Critical upcoming stretch will determine Buffalo’s fate

After over a week off, the Sabres are finally back in action tonight against the Ottawa Senators. With 33 regular-season games to go, the Sabres find themselves 10 points out of a playoff spot. While teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers have taken hold of spots No. 2 and 3 in the division, the Sabres have their work cut out for them.


THE 10-GAME STRETCH

As it stands right now, the playoffs are very unlikely for Buffalo. If there was one part of their schedule that could give them a much-needed boost, it’s their next 10 games. The Charging Buffalo said it best with this tweet:

Many of those opponents are, well, not very good. I’m not saying the Sabres are, but a majority of those 10 games are very winnable. Also, nine of them are on home ice, where the Sabres have played much better compared to their poor 8-14-4 road record.


These next 10 games are absolutely huge if they want to have any chance at all at making a playoff push. Jeff Skinner is set to return to the lineup tonight, but he wasn’t performing too well before the injury. Victor Olofsson is expected back in the next week or so, too.

WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR PLAYOFFS?

Record wise, over the final 33 games, going something like 20-9-4 over the remaining games would give them a 56% chance of making it, according to SportsClubStats. A 21st win bumps the percentage up to 87% and a 22nd win increases it well over 90%.

The big question is can this team win 20 of the final 33 games?

DOES BOTTERILL MAKE A MOVE?

He’s been pretty quiet to this point, but with the Trade Deadline coming up in a month, Botterill could either help bring in some more scoring help or choose to build for the future. I think he will make a couple of moves, but that will depend on where this team is after the next two or three weeks.


THE TIME IS NOW

The Sabres 51 points that they have is still five points fewer than they had at this point last season. So they’re technically behind last year’s horrid pace. As we know, last year’s team was about to enter a free fall around this time.

They have three regulation wins in the last four games and have a chance to build some momentum. It will take a big effort over the next 10 games, but if they can actually win eight or nine of them, this team could make a legitimate playoff push.

WHAT I THINK WILL HAPPEN

I don’t believe the Sabres are that good of a team, but I do think they will end up getting six wins over this 10-game stretch, maybe 6-3-1 or something similar.

Those results won’t be good enough to make a push, but that’s what I think they’ll do. Hopefully, they prove me wrong and can find a way to at least 16 of those 20 points. Then, we might actually have meaningful games entering March.

What do you think? How many points do they earn in this 10-game stretch?

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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
-----------------------------------------
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