Tag: Eastern Conference playoff race

Buffalo Sabres

Sabres’ weird win might be a metaphor for their season


If you’re the type of person who analogizes things constantly like me, the Buffalo Sabres’ comeback-filled 6-5 OT win against the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t shocking. Instead, it was really a microcosm of both teams’ seasons.

Toronto opened the game with a stunning 3-0 lead, much like they raced off out of the gates with a high-powered offense. Even Phil Kessel stuck to the script, supplying assists on all of those tallies.

Sabres fight back

Much like during this season’s rougher moments, the Buffalo Sabres could have thrown in the towel with that big deficit in mind – not to mention an endless deluge of Internet snark building – but they refused to do so. That being said, they sure didn’t make it look easy … unless you think they really have a flair for the dramatic.

Buffalo dominated the second period 2-0 with a 19-6 shot advantage. Things could have fallen apart two more times in the third period, too. Clarke MacArthur made it 4-2 just a minute and a half in but Derek Roy collected a power-play tally to give Buffalo hope. Jake Gardiner then seemingly put things out of reach by skating around the Buffalo defense and made it 5-3, but it shockingly wasn’t over.

One more comeback

Alexander Suzler scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-4 about 15 minutes into that manic final frame, yet the tying goal might have been the most symbolic moment.

As PHT’s Joe Yerdon points out, the scramble in front of Toronto’s net that resulted in the 5-5 Jordan Leopold tally in many ways tells the story of the Leafs’ lost season. In a way, it tells Buffalo’s story too – they keep coming back and finding ways to win, even if it’s nowhere near as pretty as anyone expected.

It’s pretty hard to deny the beauty of a wild Buffalo crowd after Roy scored the overtime power play game-winner, though. That’s a moment that was a beauty for any hockey fans without a horse in this increasingly crazy race.

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Standings update

For now, let’s ignore the Florida Panthers’ place in the eighth place mess, even after they coughed up an embarrassing 5-4 OT loss to the Winnipeg Jets tonight. Here’s what the race between Washington and Buffalo looks like after the Sabres’ surge:

8. Washington: 88 points, 36 regulation/OT wins and two games left – vs. Florida (Thursday) and at Rangers (Saturday)
9. Buffalo: 88 points, 32 regulation/OT wins and two games left – at Philadelphia (Thursday), at Boston (Saturday)

As you can see, the Capitals hold the tiebreaker advantage so the Sabres need to finish with one more point to take the eighth seed. The nice thing about Thursday’s Panthers-Capitals game is that Florida has incentive to at least fight for a win since the Southeast title hasn’t been clinched yet. On the other hand, the Rangers have even less on the line than the Flyers and Bruins, so Buffalo’s best chance to “control its destiny” is if Washington finishes with a point or less on Thursday.

It all sets up for a stretch run that should be as dramatic and ridiculous as every day-to-day development so far.

That being said, it might be hard to top tonight’s theatrics.

The Capitals are going to need help to make the playoffs

Buffalo Sabres v Washington Capitals

Last night the Capitals had a chance to seize control of their own destiny and eighth place in the Eastern Conference. After getting blown out at home by the Buffalo Sabres 5-1, the Capitals are hard up against it now. The Caps and Sabres each have five games remaining and with Buffalo having a two point lead, Washington is going to need help over the final stretch to make the postseason.

While Caps fans are all sad today thinking that maybe their superstar-laden team will miss the playoffs in a year that was meant to see them finally make a run at the Stanley Cup, keep this in mind: Should Washington and Buffalo finish tied in points, the Caps have the tie breaker thanks to having more regulation and overtime wins.

That said, things can get dicey for both teams over the final set of games. Check out each team’s schedule the rest of the way:

Washington:  @Boston, Montreal, @Tampa Bay, Florida, @NY Rangers

Buffalo: Pittsburgh, @Toronto, Toronto, @Philadelphia, @Boston

It’s safe to say that this is a long way from being over and done. Both teams having to deal with Boston on the road while the Sabres have an odd balance of getting a down and out Toronto team twice but also having the Penguins and Flyers staring them in the face. The Sabres have to finish with more points no matter what, but last night’s win puts them in the driver’s seat.

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