The 2013 Buffalo Sabres are halfway to somewhere. Where that is exactly is tough to pin down. Last place? Somewhere between last and 8th? Oblivion? The playoffs?
Man, I don't know. There still are 24 games to go and I like to try and be optimistic. Really, being pessimistic is so easy. Especially with this bunch. The chance you'll end up being correct is pretty good and even if you're wrong who will care. Everyone would be so busy going bonkers because they actually made the playoffs that they'd forgive fans who were more skeptical.
But who are these guys and, really, where are they going? Part of the reason they're so hard to get a read on is the coaching change. After losing their first two under Ron Rolston, the Sabres cleaned up their own end a bit and picked up 7 of 8 points over the next four games. Tuesday in Carolina was a reversion to earlier form in their own end. How long that lingers will tell us a lot about who these guys are going to be in the second half.
The ground to make up isn't insurmountable. Last year around this time the Sabres were 4 points out of 8th with 16 games to go and got there, unfortunately, with games to spare. I say unfortunately of course because the Sabres coughed up that coveted 8th spot over their final 5 games and missed the playoffs. This year finds them 4 points out again, albeit, with more traffic to get past, but 24 games to get it done. It still may seem far fetched to fans who've watched this team stumble around in winning only 9 of 24 games, but another good stretch starting tonight would go a long ways.
Heck, avoiding back to back losses would be progress. So far this year, whenever the Sabres have followed up a win with a loss, they've lost the next game too. Got that? Avoiding losing streaks is kind of important. I know this technically is already a two game losing streak, but at least they got a point in the shootout loss in New York on Sunday, so put a few more wins together and you've got a real season salvaging kind of stretch.
I know, I'm delusional, right? Whatever.
The bigger questions about who these guys are and where they're going lie in the GM's office and in the future of the interim head coach. If the Sabres don't make the kind of run I'm describing above, what happens to Darcy Regier? Lindy Ruff got thrown into the volcano and rightly so, I say. If the team Regier built doesn't straighten up and fly right under Ron Rolston does Regier get to preside over another off season? What about even leaving him in charge for the trade deadline? If the Sabres end up being sellers because the team has much larger problems than Lindy Ruff grinding down his players, how does Regier get to keep his job? The answer is he probably doesn't, I think. If you know that by the trade deadline, should he really be I charge of selling off parts, assuming you want to do at least some of that?
So now what, I fire my GM in April? That's kind of messy, no? What does any of this mean to Ron Rolston? It can't be good for him.
Here's where I end up. These guys better win. If they don't it'll be plain to see what the Sabres are. They'd be a mess.