The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 12/16/14 at 11:29 AM ET
They did it again.
It took a shootout and recovery from blowing a 2-goal lead to do it, but the Sabres defeated Ottawa 5-4. Buffalo is now 4 points behind 8th in the East.
That's 10 wins in 13 games, despite only having outshot their opponent in 2 of them.
Do we chalk another one up to puck luck? There have been some games during this stretch where the Sabres were the recipients of good fortune (do you deserve to beat Calgary when you're outshot 45-19?), but last night's win was hard earned and well deserved.
Marcus Foligno and Brian Flynn each had a goal and an assist in this one. Tyler Myers (1 assist, 31:09 TOI), Rasmus Ristolainen (1 goal, 25:24 TOI) and Nikita Zadorov (4 hits, 2 blocked shots, 27:44 TOI) logged heavy minutes on the blue line. Jhonas Enroth looked like he could use a game off yet still made enough saves -- including some big stops in the shootout -- to seal the victory.
As these wins keep piling up, you wonder when the word "playoffs" is going to creep into the conversation.
That time is just about here. No matter what you think of your team, you can't ignore the standings.
The big question today isn't whether or not GM Tim Murray and the Sabres are up for an attempted run to the playoffs -- it's whether or not the fans are up for it.
As I told Mick Kern on the SiriusXM airwaves yesterday, Sabres Nation is all-in with a steady and methodical rebuild. A large part of that involves a rare opportunity to get a generational player, and it looks like there will be two of them on the board come June.
But we're getting to the point where the mere mention of being OK with the Sabres losing is silly. Upon further review, this looks nothing like the worst team in the NHL. They're 9 points up on Edmonton. There's good young talent here, the team is moving the puck up the ice much better, they look a lot more confident, they don't fall apart in the face of adversity as in the past, and it appears as though concerns about the goaltending were unfounded.
That being said, this isn't a playoff-caliber roster as it's currently constructed. The Sabres have one legitimate scoring line (hey, that's more than they had a month ago), their best players have stayed healthy, and most of all they'd have to go 28-15-8 just to get to 92 points.
Regarding the last point, I think that's a lot to ask of this group. But if the Sabres hang around long enough, will Murray seriously consider going into buyer mode?
Unless there is a reasonable offer on the table to send someone as good as Taylor Hall or Evander Kane in this direction, I hope not. Hold on to those 3 first-round picks and draft the best players on the board. Let the process continue to evolve without ill-advised alteration.
Keep things in perspective. The Sabres have beaten Carey Price and Jonathan Quick in the past month, but they've also won against 6 backup goaltenders.
Fans here will likely soon be feeling the hangover of no longer watching McDavid and Eichel videos, wondering what might have been. I don't think this fan base is mentally in a place to be transitioning so quickly to believing they're watching a contender.
It's not that the Sabres faithful wouldn't want a playoff run, it's just that it couldn't be taken seriously. They're smart enough to know what they have, and what they don't.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]