Things have been grim for the Buffalo Sabres lately – just ask Steve Ott – but Friday brought up what seemed like an unthinkable question: can they make a run for the playoffs?
Buffalo kept its shaky postseason hopes alive with a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators while Ryan Miller made history.
Miller, 32, passed Dominik Hasek for first all-time in Sabres history for saves, finishing the night with 35 stops to push his franchise (and career) total to 13,332. Sabres PR guy Ian Ott points out that his mark gives him the sixth-most saves for a goalie with a single franchise.
Moving back to more immediate numbers, the Sabres are now four points out of eighth place with 36 points. There are plenty of good news/bad news bits:
- Sure, they’re four points away, but three other teams are closer to the eighth-ranked New York Islanders (40 points).
- Sports Club Stats still only gives them a 5.5 percent shot.
- On the other hand, the Sabres play seven of their final 10 games at home. That could boost their numbers considerably (their outlook improved by 2.6 percent tonight, for instance).
In the grand scheme of things, all those numbers can be a little dizzying. Sports Club Stats also gives teams a benchmark to shoot for, record-wise:
7-0-3 finish: 81.9 percent chance
8-2-0 finish: 66.1 percent chance
7-1-2 finish: 59.4 percent chance
6-0-4 finish: 53.0 percent chance
Things fall off the map quickly once you get into 7-2-1 territory (33.7 percent chance), though, so Buffalo would need to be close-to-perfect to make it happen.
Then again, many probably didn’t expect Miller to break one of Hasek’s club records when he began his days as Buffalo’s No. 1 either, so you never know.
Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.
Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.
Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.
There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.
The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.
Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.
Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.
Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.
Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.
It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.
With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.
Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.
For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.
With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.
Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.
The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.
“If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”
The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now
NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars
Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team