Over at the Buffalo News, John Vogl has penned a rather interesting piece about Steve Ott’s emergence following the firing of Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff.
The piece highlights a lot of things — Ott taking the heat off captain Jason Pominville by intercepting a TV crew, Ott’s increased minutes under Ron Rolston, Ott’s faceoff prowess — but it’s one thing in particular that stands out:
Ott’s belief in his team’s playoff chances.
“Our last game of the year, that will be the judge,” he said. “If we’re a playoff team, that’s my expectations of this team. That hasn’t changed.
“We’ve got some work cut out ahead of us, but by all means it’s in our grasp.”
With just 11 wins in 30 games, the Sabres currently sit 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. They’re six points back of eighth place, with four teams between them and the final playoff spot.
According to Sports Club Stats, the Sabres have a 1.8 percent chance of making the postseason. That’s the second-lowest percentage in the league, ahead of only Florida (who, at 0.0 percent, can probably start booking tee times.)
Obviously, Ott has to say all the right things publicly. He can’t very well admit he and the Sabres have acknowledged and/or accepted this season is done, what with 11 home games left on the schedule.
And to be fair, it’s not like the Sabres haven’t nearly risen from the dead before.
Last season, the Sabres were sitting 14th in the East on Feb. 19 with a 25-27-7 record, only to mount a furious rally (they went 14-2-3 from Feb. 19-Mar. 27), finishing just three points back of Ottawa for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Ott figures this year’s Sabres can do the same, with the Ruff-for-Rolston switch being the catalyst.
“Since the changes have occurred, I think we’ve continued to get better,” he explained. “By the end of all this stuff, if we continue to grow and continue to get better, I like the success of this team.”