The Buffalo Sabres have two games left in the season and there’s still a doubt as to whether or not they’ll finish with the league’s worst record.
Consider that they have 54 points, a whole two points better than they did last season when they were 13 points behind the next worst team, and it lays out just how bad things are at the bottom. The fact the Sabres are technically better than they were last season is startling on its own and the fact whether or not they’ll secure their shot to grab Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel waits for at least the result of their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
What’s incredible about this season for Buffalo is how the Sabres have had and may continue to have their hands in everything. Think of what may lay ahead for Saturday, the final day of the season.
A Sabres win against the Blue Jackets puts them even in points with Arizona for last. The Sabres have the tiebreaker, of course, but it would set the table for a highly uncomfortable final game at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Sabres would need a regulation loss to ensure 30th and while doing that against Pittsburgh hasn’t been hard to do in recent years, the Penguins are reeling.
The Penguins are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games and may need to win that game Saturday should they lose to the New York Islanders on Friday. A Penguins regulation loss would put them in peril of missing the playoffs. On the upside, they have one more point than the equally flailing Boston Bruins, but with everyone in action on Saturday leaving things to chance means potential playoff mayhem with the Bruins, Penguins, and Ottawa Senators all looking to secure the wild card spots.
Think of the drama that could unfold in Buffalo on Saturday… Buffalo fans desperate for their team to lose to secure their spot in the standings coupled with the Penguins desperately needing a win to make the playoffs. How do the fans react to that?
Sure there will be a lot of Penguins fans there because Pittsburgh isn’t too far from Buffalo, but the surreal atmosphere that could come about would be even stranger than what happened against the Coyotes weeks ago. The desire by the Sabres fan base to land either McDavid or Eichel is at a fever pitch and if the Sabres pull out a win against Columbus it’ll be a virtual panic situation.
Think of the absurdity of that. Of all of it. To root for a team that has done nothing but lose in unfathomable fashion the past two seasons only to have them not lose enough for the pay off. It’s enough to make you want to have the Sabres lose to Columbus just to make sure it doesn’t happen.
But the drama… The drama is too rich to ignore. Just thinking of how that game could play out with so much on the line for both teams is incredible. It’d be a fitting send off to what’s been a ridiculous season in regards to racing to the bottom one way or another.
Maybe the Blue Jackets and Penguins take care of things tonight and make that final game just another throwaway game on the final day of the season. Then again, maybe they don’t and we’re all treated to one final fascinating spectacle in what’s been a season straight out of Bizarro World.