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Sabres Midseason Chances

January 23, 2009 - Matt Spielman

Sabres fans, you do this to yourselves.
At the midpoint of the season, the fan base's negativity is ridiculous.
Seventh place in the Eastern Conference just isn't good enough for a group of followers that nearly lost its team six years ago to bankruptcy and crooked ownership. True, the Sabres probably aren't going to reach Boston at the top of the conference and that makes it a near certainty that the highest they can finish is fourth place, but big deal. Buffalo has looked good against Boston -- and for that matter, most of the top teams in the NHL -- this season.

Against the Capitals this year -- who the Sabres would play in the playoffs if the season ended today -- Buffalo is 1-2, winning 5-0 early in the season, but losing, 3-2, and 4-2, a few weeks ago. If the Sabres were to fall into the No. 8 spot, they would take on division rival Boston. Buffalo has had quite a bit of success against the Bruins this season, considering Boston's record at this point. Buffalo is 3-2 with one game remaining against the conference's top team. If the Sabres were able to move up into the sixth spot, they would take on New Jersey. Buffalo has beaten the Devils twice and lost to them once thus far. The other playoff matchup the Sabres could move up to with a spectacular second half is another division rival, Montreal. Buffalo is just 1-2 against the Canadiens this season, but still has three more games remaining.

Recent history is full of lower seeds having success in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Edmonton advanced to the finals as a No. 8 seed in 2006, Calgary made it as a No. 6 seed in 2004 and Anaheim moved to the finals as a No. 7 seed in 2003. Even Sabres history shows the team can succeed in the playoffs as a low seed. Buffalo was the No. 6 seed when it lost to Washington in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals and one year later, the Sabres were the No. 7 seed when they lost to Dallas in the Stanley Cup finals.

So before getting all down on the Sabres, remember the down years the team has had and look at the bright side. No matter who they match up with, assuming they make the playoffs, they have had much success so far. Sabres fans know best, with a hot goalie (i.e. Dominik Hasek) and no matter what seed the team is, Buffalo knows how to win in the postseason.



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