BULLDOG: Worry when we get there
It happens every year, without fail, that the Sabres are in a race to make the playoffs. Our show starts to sound like there are only two kinds of fans. Those who think the Sabres will fail in their quest to make the post-season and those who are in a huge hurry to tell you that they aren't good enough to win in the playoffs anyways so why bother. There is no great mystery to me to why this is the case. I have to have a take. You have to have a take. Something definitive is encouraged. They won't win the cup is safe in that you have a really decent chance of being correct and we all like that, right?
We'll see what happens is about as safe and middle of the road as it gets. We hate this take, don't we? That doesn't make it wrong. Just kind of boring. When it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs you don't have to try too hard to construct an upset scenario. It's really pretty simple. Your power play gets hot, your goalie gets in a groove, and, well that's pretty much it. Games are tight in the NHL all season long. They are even tighter in the post-season which is why it helps to have guys who can score on your side.
How large a factor can special teams be? Let me refresh your memories. Montreal scored 6 power play goals in their first round win over Washington last April while the Capitals went 1-33 with the man advantage. There's your goalie playing out of his skull and special teams in general making the difference in a series. Closer to home, special teams played a huge role in the Sabres first round loss to Boston. Buffalo was 0-19 on the power play while the Bruins scored 6 times in 22 opportunities. In what are generally close games, that is a huge disparity. A power play that is clicking can also help swing momentum and likewise, a floundering unit with the man advantage can give the opposition something to build on.
There is still much to be determined here, of course. Most notably, whether the Sabres will actually make it to the playoffs. I've thought for a while that they would. Predicting a long run or an early exit can be tricky. I believe in this though. They don't have to lose because they were bad in October, or last April. Am I supposed to not want them to make it because Tim Connolly is still on the team? Seriously, cut it out. I'm really pulling for them to make it and then, we'll see.
How is the goalie playing? How's the power play?