If you ask a group of Buffalo Sabres fans if the playoffs are still a possibility in 2024, you’ll be surprised at how many believe the drought will continue for a 13th season. While the Blue and Gold have their work cut out for them in January 2024, many fans may be surprised to learn that recent history favors Buffalo.

Skinner leads Sabres to 5-2 win over Blue Jackets

Last season, the Sabres were one point away from breaking their playoff drought, and this year, they are seven points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who hold the second wild card spot. That will discourage a portion of the fan base from believing the postseason is possible, but a quick history lesson proves otherwise.

On January 12th, 2023, the Sabres may have had a slightly better record than they do now, with 42 points in 40 games played, compared to their current 40 points in 42 games. However, they were six points behind the second wild card at the time, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had 48 points. In terms of the first wild card, the Washington Capitals, the Sabres were 10 points behind them, two more than the New York Islanders, who are eight points behind this season with 48.

While the Sabres were in the fifth wild card spot on January 12th, 2023, rather than the eighth spot today, the slight difference in point differential between them and the second wild card – seven this season and six last season – 366 days ago is worth noting. Interestingly, the Florida Panthers, who went on to win the Eastern Conference, had 42 points and a paltry 0.98 points per game at the time, putting them one spot below the Sabres and in sixth place in the wild card standings.

This is not to say that history will repeat itself, with the Buffalo Sabres becoming strong contenders again in 2024. However, the Blue and Gold, like the Panthers, were well outside of a wild card spot at this time last year. By the end of the season, both teams were in contention for a wild card spot, which ultimately went to Florida.

So, if you’re among those who believe playoffs are impossible due to the team’s current situation, now is the time to reconsider. Buffalo is still very much in this race right now, but they must keep winning games over the next few months to be in contention at the end of the season.

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