Buffalo Sabres: Is there any chance of making the playoffs?

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 12: Kyle Okposo
BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 12: Kyle Okposo /

With the halfway point of the regular season fast-approaching, the Buffalo Sabres are struggling to stay relevant. Do they have any shot at making the playoffs?

The playoffs are a foreign land to the Buffalo Sabres. The last time the Swords made an appearance in the postseason was in the 2010/11 season, where they lost in a Game 7 to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Little did Buffalo fans know their beloved blue and gold would not make the playoffs for the next six seasons. At the moment, that’s the second-longest playoff drought in the NHL with two seasons separating the Sabres and the Carolina Hurricanes.

What’s similar between both Buffalo and Carolina as of this season is they find themselves in no position to make the postseason. The Sabres currently sit dead last in the Atlantic Division with 22 points; three points above Arizona for last in the NHL.

Every hockey fan knows how critical it is to get off to a good start. The months of October and November dictate the way the season is going to go for your respective club. The Buffalo Sabres couldn’t find the common trend in those crucial two months, as they were unable to surpass 10 wins.

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When Buffalo can’t find a way to put wins together, it gets frusturating. What’s even more frusturating is the Sabres can’t find wins under a revamped squad.

The likes of Nathan Beaulieu, Marco Scandella, Jason Pominville and the return of Chad Johnson couldn’t give the extra boost the Sabres so desperately need. But, are fans going to convince themselves these players were really going to be the answer to the postseason drought?

Scandella stabilizes the blue line very nicely, but other than Rasmus Ristolainen, there’s too many question marks on the d-core. Beaulieu is likely the biggest of them all, with several mistakes in the opening months of the season. Add in injuries to the defense and Buffalo has themselves a catastrophe.

Pominville has mashed well with Jack Eichel this season, but the 35-year-old had a huge scoring drought that finally ended in the back-to-back with the Pittsburgh Penguins. At Pominville’s age, he only has so many years on a team that’s very young.

There’s no chance the Buffalo Sabres could make the playoffs with a duo of Robin Lehner and Johnson in net. Even though Lehner has been in form as of late, he’s still not the franchise guy Buffalo is looking for.

The Swords have also had the problem of inconsistency all season long. Kyle Okposo and Sam Reinhart are two key players that have recently hit a spark in December. It’s been hush hush from those two for the majority of the campaign.

Phil Housley’s unit finds themselves very incompatible at depth scoring. The problem has occurred since October and it’s still lasting to this day.

All of these factors come together to suggest Buffalo has almost no chance of making the playoffs. According to Sports Club Stats, Buffalo currently has a 0.1 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason.

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Fans were led to believe this was the year the Sabres could make the push towards April. Yet, here we are with some fans possibly looking at what’s available come draft day.

On a positive note, Buffalo has been playing well lately. The Swords have looked very competitive against some of the top clubs in the NHL.

GM Jason Botterill is rumored to already be looking ahead to the trade deadline as well, with the likes of Evander Kane and Lehner potentially on their way out.

Fans can’t be tricked into the “this is our year” narrative anymore. The Sabres are still one of the youngest teams in the NHL with an average age of nearly 26. Buffalo still needs to add pieces to what seems like an already strong youth core.

If Buffalo can continue to build for the future, fans will hopefully be talking about the playoffs around this time of the season in the forthcoming years.

Next: Sabres overcome recent losses in Ottawa win

Do you think the Buffalo Sabres have any chance of making the playoffs? Should they continue to add to the future, rather than focusing on the present? Let us know in the comments below.