The Buffalo Sabres come off the All-Star break with a record of 24-18-6 through 48 games, sitting 4 points out of a Wildcard spot. The team that seemingly overachieved during the 10-game win streak is in the thick of the playoff race, which is impressive enough given the past few years of losing.
However, this Sabres team elevated expectations while rising to the top of the NHL standings. They were expected to make the playoffs during this incredible run, and are still fully capable of qualifying. However, they no longer can lean on that 10-game win streak as a cushion. They have been less than spectacular after the streak and have struggled to get scoring from anyone not named Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, or Sam Reinhart.
The lack of secondary scoring combined with the slight decline in the play of starting goalie Carter Hutton has plagued the Sabres and labeled them as a model of inconsistency. After the All-Star break, the Sabres play back-to-back away games against the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets. After this pair of games, Buffalo enters a 7-game homestand.
This homestand will be crucial to the Sabres’ playoff chances and they need to come away with as many wins as possible during these home games.
There are only roughly two months left in the season, so the Sabres need to bring the energy, fire, and passion they displayed while they were at the top of the league. A season is full of ups-and-downs, but it would be a shame if the Sabres didn’t qualify for the playoffs after the incredible run they had. In order to qualify for the first time since 2011, Eichel and Co. must step it up and come together as a team.