Every year there seems to be one loss that really gets to you. Last night wasn’t it.
It’s a frustrating game for sure, but that’s about it. There is no lingering anger about the game, no worry about where this team is headed. Everyone knows how important a win would be, and the team just didn’t show up. If they don’t think it’s all that important, why should we?
Lindy Ruff said it better than I can, so just listen to him. I watched this and nodded the entire time, and I know I wasn’t alone. The Sabres didn’t show up in a game that Craig Rivet called “the most important game of the year.” Not a good night overall.
It’s bad enough the Sabres dropped a four point game when they could have dropped the hammer on the Hurricanes, but the rest of the night was turning out great for the Sabres. All of the things they couldn’t control went their way. Montreal continued their tailspin, the Rangers lost, and Florida lost as well. The Sabres could have climbed the standings a little, and basically shut the door on the teams 9th and lower in the conference. It didn’t happen, and now that door is opened a little more.
What I’m starting to see more and more is that the Sabres just aren’t going to climb the standings and finish where we want them to be. The Sabres are just five points away from 4th place and four home games in the first round, but dropping games like this makes that five point deficit seem impossible. To make the playoffs the Sabres have to finish 13-11-1, and right now I don’t see them doing that much better than that.
That’s not to say they won’t gain some ground. They will still finish somewhere in the 6-8 range, but that’s still a first round match up against a division winner. I don’t think any rational Sabres fan thinks this team is a Cup contender, but they have the potential to steal a round if things go well. That “going well” thing gets a whole lot harder when you’re playing against Boston, Washington, and New Jersey.
You don’t want to take too much from one game, but the last few games have given me the feeling that we’re expecting too much from this team. Maybe where they are is where they’re supposed to be. There’s still time to climb the ladder, but it’s starting to get longer.