Buffalo's injury situation has gone from bad to worse, but the Sabres have won five of their last six games and have the NHL's best record. Buffalo has lost a key forward to injury in each of its last five games. Currently, six of the team's top 10 forwards are out anywhere from two weeks to the remainder of the season. Four of the six forwards will miss at least a month. A seventh player, top four defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, is out for roughly a month.
Buffalo's roster currently bears a strong resemblance to the AHL's Rochester Americans, and yet the Sabres continue to win games. The injury situation isn't likely to improve drastically until late March or early April. With a playoff spot all but assured, the Sabres must concentrate on securing a high playoff seeding.
Next, they must hope that key contributors like Maxim Afinogenov and Ales Kotalik are healthy enough for the first round of the playoffs. The NHL playoffs are typically filled with upsets, and it will be a shame if Buffalo is a victim because of all these injuries.
Not to read too much into this, but this postseason is crucial for the Sabres' franchise. This could be Buffalo's best team since the mid-70's, and it might be broken up after the season. Two of the Sabres' top four scorers, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury, will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. In addition, the Sabres need a deep playoff run to turn a profit. The small-market team spent right to the salary cap this season and sold out all of its regular season games, but will have a hard time breaking even with an early playoff exit.
Posted by Ted Rossman at 2/21/2007 10:28:00 AM