Summer may be the most enjoyable time of the year for many; but when it comes to NHL teams, they want to put off the start of the summer vacation for as long as possible.
But for the seven Eastern Conference teams that missed out on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoff party, their goal since the second week of April has been figuring out how to extend their seasons into May -- or even June, like conference champion New Jersey Devils.
So how can the teams that missed the fun turn into postseason hits during the upcoming season? With about a month until training camp opens, NHL.com examines why fans of the unlucky seven can harbor playoff hopes for 2012-13:
Last season: 39-32-11, 89 points, three points out of eighth place
How it ended: A five-game win streak had the Sabres in a playoff spot March 28, but they lost three of their next four to finish outside the top eight.
Offseason changes: After a noisy offseason last year, the Sabres were a bit quieter this summer. Their big move was trading center Derek Roy to the Dallas Stars for forward Steve Ott and defenseman Adam Pardy. Along with the addition of rugged defenseman John Scott, the Sabres became a far tougher team to play.