It just couldn’t be that easy, could it? After destroying the one team directly in the path of the playoffs, Buffalo dropped two straight games on Friday and Saturday, falling two points behind the Capitals. I honestly don’t know how to feel. It’s deflating, obviously, because it seemed within grasp.
Pittsburgh was coming to town off of two straight losses to the Islanders and their backup goalie in net, who Buffalo had already chased from a game earlier this year. While the losses to the Isles may have motivated them, or maybe they play to the level of their opponent, a Buffalo win wasn’t too far out of the picture. Of course, it’s the Penguins and they have the talent to explode on any night no matter how they come into the game. Coupled with the Sabres insane pace the past couple of months, the inevitable slip up was coming. It’s upsetting, but understandable. If you had to let one get away, can’t find a much better team to give it to.
The Leafs were where the Sabres were back in January. I was afraid of Buffalo overlooking Toronto because of this but Washington had already bounced back from the Buffalo game and showed the team that there was still work to be done. Toronto saw a chance to stick it to their rivals, however, and at the same time stop their dreadful home losing streak. This one is tough to swallow no matter how you look at it. If the Sabres win, they leave the week tied with Washington with three games left for each. The loss, sets them back a couple points and needing help from teams to keep them in it and that’s if they sweep their own games.
Which leads me back to my original feeling, which I’m not able to find. For anyone who had been following the team the entire season, watching 90% of the games, the past couple of months have a gift. After being so down on the team for so long , having the Sabres in the playoff chase is incredible. There were several conversations, blog posts, radio shows, about how hard the Sabres could tank and how much of the roster should be revamped. Those thoughts seem very premature now, but are they really? Many people believed the Sabres would contend for at least a division title and were penciled in for the playoffs. To be fighting in the last week of the season for a shot, even with all the injuries, appears to be a failure. Not to mention this is the second season in a row where this miracle run has happened which is more troubling. A third season with a late season run to the playoffs will not go over well with fans unless it ends even more miraculously with the Stanley Cup.
As for this season, I may be finally tapped out. I will definitely tune in to the final three games, even if they are eliminated, but it’s hard to feel optimistic. If the games fall into place and the Sabres do make the playoffs, I will be excited but view them as I have viewed the past couple of months, playing with house money. The season could have been over in January. Instead, we’ve had good, meaningful hockey much longer than we should have.