The Sabres playoff drought has officially reached a decade.
With their 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Saturday afternoon, the Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention. With 12 games remaining on their schedule the maximum number of points the Sabres could reach this season is only 53. The Bruins, the fourth place team in the East Division, already have 54 points.
They are the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season.
Given the way this season started for Buffalo, with an 18-game winless streak in the middle, this was a foregone conclusion but it is still noteworthy to see this organization go 10 straight years without a trip to the playoffs. They have changed general managers and coaches multiple times, tried to rebuild, and may have to rebuild again.
This now has the Sabres tied with the Panthers (2001-11) and Oilers (2007-16) for longest playoff droughts in NHL history.
If you are a Sabres fan looking for a positive in all of this, it is that even with Saturday’s loss they still showed a lot fight late in the third period and nearly tied the game in the closing seconds after entering the period facing a two-goal deficit. They have looked like a different team since changing coaches more than a month ago and are no longer a pushover for the rest of the teams in the East Division.
Even with that, they still did not have enough to match up with the Penguins on Saturday.
Pittsburgh finished the game with 41 shots on goal and carried the play for long stretches, especially in the first period where the Sabres looked a little overmatched.
The Penguins continued to get great contributions from its depth forwards as Jared McCann and Evan Rodrigues scored goals in the win. Bryan Rust‘s power play goal late in the second period proved to be the game-winner.
The most impressive thing about Pittsburgh’s season, and maybe even the biggest surprise, is just how good its depth has been. If you go back to the start of the season that might have been one of the biggest questions about this roster. It has exceeded all expectations, and one of the best ways to illustrate that is looking at what they have done when neither Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin is on the ice. This season the Penguins actually have a plus-eight goal differential when neither of their top-two superstars are on the ice. That speaks volumes as to just how good the rest of the roster has played this season.