With the NHL All-Star festivities now behind us and the calendar set to flip to February, it’s time to look ahead to the remaining 33 games on the schedule for the Sabres. The team does not play again until Friday, which makes for an unusually long nine-day layoff that can be either a blessing or a curse.
On one hand, the break gives players a chance to recover from injuries and heal from the typical bumps and bruises they incur over the course of a grueling season. On the other hand, the Sabres were playing good hockey heading into the break, going 9-3-1 over the last 13 games, and there’s always a chance that such a long layoff can hurt the momentum.
The February schedule is a quirky one for the Sabres. They return from the break with back-to-back games, traveling to Pittsburgh on Friday and returning home to face Toronto on Saturday. They play just two games the following week, both in the state of Florida as they meet the Lightning and Panthers.
After that, the schedule picks up immensely, with four games in each of the following two weeks. That means Buffalo will play a total of four games over the first 12 days of February followed by eight games in 14 days to finish the month. In addition, seven of those final eight games of the month will be played on home ice, where the Sabres are 11-12-1 on the season.
Following their six-game homestand to close out February, the Sabres go on a season-long seven-game road trip that will last 12 days and begins in New York for a meeting with the Rangers, then takes them to Carolina, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Boston and Toronto. Then, seven of the final nine games of the month will be back in Buffalo.
|Photo: Bill Wippert |
March will be by far the busiest month of the Sabres’ season as they play 16 times in 30 days, including five sets of back-to-backs. In April, the Sabres close out the regular season with a total of two home games and three road contests.
In terms of location and opponents, the remaining schedule breaks down like this:
• 17 home games
• 16 road games
• 28 games vs. Eastern Conference opponents
• 5 games vs. Western Conference opponents
• 9 games vs. Northeast Division opponents
• 17 games vs. teams that currently hold a playoff spot
• 12 games vs. teams that are below Buffalo in the overall standings
Buffalo enters the post-All-Star break portion of the season in 10th place in the Eastern Conference and six points behind eighth place Atlanta with three games in hand on the Thrashers. Those two teams will go head-to-head twice down the stretch (Feb. 23 and Mar. 19) with both games at HSBC Arena. The Sabres will also face the team directly above them in the standings, the ninth-place Carolina Hurricanes, three more times.
The only team Buffalo will face more than Carolina is Toronto, as the Sabres and Maple Leafs will square off four more times this season.