The Buffalo Sabres wrap up the regular season Sunday in Tampa Bay…
You can spin it anyway you want but the Sabres went through the motions in Miami Saturday and got exactly what they deserved, a 3-0 shutout loss to the Florida Panthers.
If you’re a fan of the never-ending tank the result’s what you wanted to see. With the loss Buffalo slipped one point behind Florida as well as Dallas (who won Saturday) to 25th in the league standings and increase their chances of winning the draft lottery by a staggering 0.8%.
They currently own a 6.713% of winning the first pick and could pick no worse than ninth. Welcome to Sabresland—the never ending discussion of draft pick lottery odds.
We’ll skip talking any Sabres offense from this game because there literally was none. Florida goalie James Reimer made 30 saves in net for the shutout—or so I’m told.
Some thoughts and reactions:
♦ I mean, Sunday could be Dan Blysma’s last as Sabres coach, right? It has to at least be a consideration. Very few expected the Sabres to be a playoff team this season, but it wasn’t unreasonable to anticipate being better than 2015-16. Minus the continued rise of Jack Eichel and goal scoring ability of Evander Kane (27 goals) this team gave us little on-ice reason to be excited about the future. Some of that has to fall on Blysma, whose tasked with this team improving each year during the “rebuild.”
♦ The Sabres finished seventh in the division and 14th in the conference last season. With a loss in their finale and a Detroit win Buffalo would finish dead last (eighth) in the division and 15th in the conference, better than only New Jersey. #NotProgress
♦ Buffalo is at 78 points, just three points lower than the 81 they had last year. I’ll say it again, Blysma could be in trouble come Monday.
♦ Beyond standings, the most frustrating thing with this year’s team is how much the team unmistakably regressed after their bye, when a playoff spot was very much a possibility. The Sabres entered their bye one point out of a wildcard spot but fell completely off when they returned to action; winning just 2 of their next 11 (2-7-2) in burying themselves. Some (maybe more than just some) has to fall on Blysma and give Tim Murray (and Terry Pegula) reservation if Blysma is the guy that can end the six-year playoff drought.
♦ Assuming he isn’t trade this summer for a top four defensemen, Sam Rinehart needs to find far more consistency in his offense. The second year winger pick scored 17 goals this season but has had just 2 in his last 17 games down the stretch. Unacceptable for a second-overall pick who looks like a genius on the ice some nights and disappears on others.
♦ You know what—this team has me so dejected right now I’m saving more numbers and thoughts for after Sunday’s finale. In fact, we’ll let Sabres netminder Robin Lehner put a wrap on this… Go Bills
Lehner: “You can’t just throw your skates out there. You’ve got to show what you’re made of. We’ve got to play for our logo too.”
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) April 9, 2017