Everyone in Buffalo is currently wondering what the Sabres status is going to be heading into the deadline on Monday. Rebuild? Push for the playoffs? Cup run possible?
Let’s look at what’s apparent right now. This current Sabres team has played inconsistent hockey all year round. They string together some good games, and then look like a team who would lose to a pee-wee team for a few games. However, even after this inconsistent play, Buffalo is sitting in a position to make a run for the final spot of the playoffs. Buffalo is currently 6 points out of 8th place. That is pending on whether Toronto continues to lose to San Jose, and if Tampa Bay can beat Winnipeg later on tonight. Buffalo has 22 games to play, 1 game in hand on the Leafs, 3 in hand on the Jets (this counts tonights games).
That’s not insurmountable. The hill isn’t as steep as a lot of people think it is. It is definitely doable, even for the Sabres.
Buffalo is now faced with the touch choice of trying to get their team into the playoffs, or focus on next season.
The question I ask; Is making the playoffs good enough?
Sure, Buffalo can make the playoffs. Buffalo has made the playoffs the past 2 years, only to get eliminated immediately. Does one want to make the playoffs, if one doesn’t think that they can make a serious run at winning the Cup?
Let’s face it, it isn’t too difficult to make it into the playoffs in the NHL. 16 teams out of 30 each season make the playoffs. For some teams, yes it’s an accomplishment just to get there. Take Edmonton for example. They have been struggling for awhile and haven’t made the playoffs. Same thing with the Florida Panthers this season. Initially, it may be an accomplishment to make it to the playoffs when no one expects you to. However, the benchmark is set for next season; “We made it to the playoffs, now we need to get past the first round.”
Now, let’s look at Buffalo. They have made the playoffs the past 2 years, and haven’t gone anywhere. When should management say “Making the playoffs isn’t good enough. If we’re going to make the playoffs, we need to be going for the Cup.”
Does Buffalo want to look back on this season and say “We made the playoffs and we weren’t supposed to”? Or say “We didn’t make it this year, but we made moves so that pieces are in place for a Cup run next season”. Actually, the problem with this is, Buffalo was supposed to be a serious threat at the start of this season. It didn’t work out this way. Now they are a team who isn’t supposed to make the playoffs.
Buffalo has shown that they can make the playoffs. In 40 years of hockey in Buffalo, they’ve made the playoffs 28 times. Everyone knows that this team can make the playoffs. The fans are sick of seeing the Sabres make the playoffs only to be embarrassed. The fans, and the Sabres organization, should want to see their team make the playoffs and succeed in the playoffs.
The Sabres, this season, are not a team that will be able to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Let’s just be honest. Should Buffalo make it, they would be facing, most likely, the Rangers or Boston. They just don’t match up. Odds are against Buffalo winning against either one of those teams.
I don’t want to see Buffalo just make it into the playoffs anymore. I want to have playoff hockey start in April, thinking that Buffalo is going to make a serious run, and can at least get out of the first round. It’s time to see the Sabres make the playoffs and have their name be thrown around as one of the teams with a shot at the Cup.
I throw this out to you... Would you rather see Buffalo just make the playoffs this year, or would you rather see them restructure and prepare for a serious run next year, with the goal not being just making the playoffs, but winning the Cup?
Personally, let someone else squeak into that last playoff spot this year. Build for next year, be a seller at the deadline, and make a serious run for the Stanley Cup next season. I’d rather wait a year to see Buffalo improve this team, and come into the playoffs next year as a serious threat. I’d like them to be a team that other teams don’t want to play come April than be this years whipping boy for the first round.
Remember, there’s no trophy with your name engraved on it just for making the playoffs.