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BTB BLOG: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

by Brian Wheeler / Buffalo Sabres
Beyond the Boards is written by the Buffalo Sabres Website Manager, Brian Wheeler. Joining the Sabres prior to the 2003-04 season, Wheeler is the main contact and content editor for Sabres.com. He has worked in the NHL, NFL, AHL and NLL over the past 11 years.  Click here to send him an email.


 
[Updated: April 3, 2008 at 9:39 a.m.]

With two games remaining, the Buffalo Sabres are going to need help to make the playoffs. 

They did their part Tuesday night with a 4-3 shootout win in Toronto but it's going to take more than just a couple Ws to make it happen.

Just how much help you ask? Answers below.

[Click here to open the standings]

Point 1:  Buffalo's First Task Is Winning

To have a chance, Buffalo is going to have to sweep their last road trip to finish the regular season with 92 points and 40 wins.  

Anything less means the season is over.

As you can see to the right, the first tiebreaker is total wins.  All the teams Buffalo is chasing already have 40 wins or more.

Point 2:  It's down to Boston and Philly

To jump into seventh or eighth place, the Sabres need Philadelphia and Boston to lose but how many games and in what ways varies.  The Sabres hold the second tiebreaker on each of these teams [see tiebreaker rules to the right] so they just need both to gain 92 points or less for the season.

 NHL TIEBREAKERS

If two or more clubs are tied in points during the regular season, the standing of the clubs is determined in the following order:

1. The greater number of games won.

2. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.

3. The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season.

[Note: Uneven number of games rule omitted as all teams play an 82 game season.]
Boston's 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey Wednesday night earned the Bruins their 92nd point. 

Now we already said the Sabres need to win ALL their remaining games, which includes their Saturday night match-up in Beantown

So to jump Boston, the Sabres simply need the Bruins to lose in regulation to Ottawa on Friday night.

To pass the Flyers, Buffalo needs Philadelphia to lose its remaining two games, and one of those loses must come in regulation.

[Update (4/1): Chris Drury's power-play in overtime against Pittsburgh gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory Monday night, putting New York out of Buffalo's reach with 93 points]

Here's each team's remaining schedules:

PHI: @ PIT (4-2L); NJ (4/4); PIT (4/6)
BOS: @ NJ (3-2L, SO); @ OTT (4/4); BUF (4/5)

Point 3:  Southeast Shakedown

The Southwest Division is a dogfight right now and it's causing problems for Buffalo.

Even if the Sabres can jump Boston or Philly, they need the ninth-place Washington Capitals to gain less than two points.  Washington has 90 points and 41 wins currently.

So the Capitals can't win either of their final two games and atleast one of the two contests must end in regulation.

The Sabres can't catch Carolina.   If Washington wins the division, Buffalo would need both the scenerios in Point 2 (i.e. Buffalo would have to pass both Philly and Boston) in order to make the playoffs.

Remaining Schedule:

WAS: CAR (4-1L); TB (2-1W); FLA (4/5)
CAR:  @ WAS (4-1W); TB (4/2); FLA (4/4)

[Note:  Take a look at that scheduling.  Carolina is trying to hold on to their division lead and they get to soften up each of Washington's opponents for them.]
 
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