Buffalo Sabres Mathematically Eliminated From Playoffs
On Saturday, April 17, the Buffalo Sabres were mathematically eliminated from the NHL playoffs. Buffalo fell to the Pittsburg Penguins 3-2 to officially eliminate the Sabres from the playoffs. This marks a then year playoff drought for the Buffalo Sabres. The last time the team made the playoffs was the 2010 season.
Although expectations of a playoff appearance were low, the Sabres have been playing much better as of late. Interim Head Coach Don Granato started his career with the Sabres 0-5 but has quickly turned things around as his record now stands at 5-7-3.
After the Buffalo Sabres playoff drought reached ten years on Saturday afternoon, the team rallied to beat Pittsburg the day after. The Sabres were outshot, but held on for a 4-2 victory with the help of goaltender Dustin Tokarski. Tokarski won his first game in several years on the previous Thursday against the Washington Capitals.
In addition to solid goaltending, the Sabres have seen an increase in play from several of their young forwards. Both Take Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt tallied goals in the Sabres loss on Saturday. Arttu Ruotsalainen and Rasmus Asplund both found the back of the net on Sunday as well.
Where Do The Sabres Currently Stand
Even with a ten year playoff drought, the 2021 NHL season has not been a complete waste for the Sabres. Until recently, the Sabres young prospects had severely underperformed. However, as of late many Sabres youngsters have been living up to expectations.
Moving forward, this is tremendous news for the Buffalo Sabres. It looked as if the team may be preparing for another long rebuild, but that may no longer be the case. With the Sabres prospects increasing success, there appears to be a new feeling that the Sabres are not as poor as their record may show.
The Sabres main concern now is the status of starting goalie Linus Ullmark. Ullmark is currently out injured, but has played stellar in net for Buffalo this season. Ullmark is however a free agent at the end of this season. Prior to the trade deadline, the team confirmed that Ullmark would not be moved, but rather the two parties planned to reach a new contract agreement. The concerns in this situation are first the durability of Ullmark. The 27 year old net minder has struggled to stay healthy in his time with the Sabres. In addition, the price will have to be right for both parties given the salary cap going into the 2022 NHL season.
Jack Eichel Ruled Out For The Season
Aside from the Buffalo Sabres playoff drought, more bad news came out of Buffalo this weekend. Team captain and NHL superstar Jack Michael was ruled out for the season. Previously, Eichel had been injured but was expected to make a return prior to the end of the year. The team announced that Eichel suffered a herniated disk in his neck and will not play again until next year.
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