On Monday evening, I joined the folks at Driving Play for their playoff race podcast and one of the topics that came up was the battle for the last two spots in the Eastern Conference. The Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres and Washington Capitals are currently separated by a total of four points and at the time of the recording, the Sabres and Caps were tied with 84 points going into their showdown the next day. When we were asked which two of these teams would be the most likely to make the playoffs, I said that Ottawa will likely stay in the 7th spot and that Washington will make it in because Buffalo isn't that good.
Well....I got at least one of those predictions right. Ottawa is sitting tight at the #7 spot but the Sabres absolutely demolished the Caps last night 5-1, have claimed the #8 spot in the East and I look kind of like a jackass. There is still another week of hockey to be played so things can change but Buffalo definitely has to like their chances of making the playoffs now when you compare their schedule to Washington's.
The reason why I did not pick Buffalo despite their recent hot streak is because they are still a pretty bad team when playing at even strength in close games . Another thing is that a main reason for their turnaround is Ryan Miller having a .937 even strength save percentage in March and quite a few of their skaters have been striking gold lately as nearly 10% of their five-on-five shots have been goals. I figured that they will cool off eventually and return to how they were earlier in the season but I overlooked a couple things.
1. There's only a week left in the season the small sample size of Buffalo's hot streak could be enough to get them in.
2. Washington hasn't been that much better, if at all.
More to come after the jump.no comments