The NHLPA has agreed to further negotiations on a 24-team playoff format which would mean the 2019-20 season is over for the Buffalo Sabres, and it’s hard to argue with this scenario.
The NHL Players’ Association confirmed its executive board has authorized further negotiations on a 24-team playoff format to resume the 2019-20 campaign. In the process, this move has all but officially ended the Buffalo Sabres‘ season and deservedly so.
As reported by Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press via CBC, the NHLPA’s announcement came on Friday. The format under discussion would see the top 12 teams in each conference take part in the playoffs, meaning the Sabres would just miss out in 13th place.
A lot of Sabres followers will probably be cursing their luck, using this as further evidence to support the long-standing plight of being a sports fan in Western New York. However, it’s tough to sympathize with the team itself.
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Under the normal playoff format, the Sabres were 13 points out of a playoff spot when the NHL season was suspended in March. With the new proposal they are three points behind the Montreal Canadiens, who hold the precious 12th spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
We can appreciate plenty of Buffalo fans will point to the Blades having two games in hand over the Canadiens, which could theoretically mean moving ahead of them with a couple of wins. In reality though, the Sabres would have struggled to achieve this purely based on their form throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
In addition, most of the important statistics favor Montreal if you want to work them out on a per-game ratio. In this respect, the Canadiens have more points, more goals and conceded less on average per contest when compared to the Sabres.
Of course it’s a shame NHL fans won’t get to see top-shelf talent such as Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin compete in the playoffs. Even with an expanded playoff format however, the Blades still fail to make the cut and are just not good enough overall as a team.
Regardless, Western New York sports fans will feel aggrieved, especially when you consider the previous proposal had the Sabres actually making the playoffs. As we wrote at the time, the prior scenario had the top six teams in each division qualify for four mini tournaments.
However, the reality is this was actually less fair than the current format proposal. Using the Sabres as a specific example, they would have qualified instead of the New York Rangers despite having 11 less points in the conference standings.
Overall, the Sabres are now all but set to miss the playoffs for a league-high ninth consecutive year. It’s a deserved fate for a team which, while it has the talent and potential, still has a lot of work to do in order to return to prominence as a regular contender.
Assuming the latest proposed playoff format is approved, are you in agreement with it? Or should one of the earlier proposals which had the Buffalo Sabres making the playoffs be used? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.