The Buffalo Sabres’ season is rapidly winding down with only two games remaining on the schedule.
In comparison to where Buffalo has been in the previous two rebuilding season, 2015-16 will be remembered as a season of improvement. Special teams have improved, scoring is up, and the team has shown a big improvement in their overall record.
Through 80 games, Buffalo has an overall record of 34-35-11 and 79 points. According to Hockey-Reference.com, the club has not finished above .500 since the 2011-12 season. The Sabres can accomplish this feat if they win their final two games of the season.
The playoffs are out of reach for Buffalo but the team has played well as of late. The Sabres are currently on a three game winning streak which includes two straight road wins. Here is a preview of the Sabres’ final two games of the 2015-16 season.
Friday, April 9, 2016 – Blue Jackets vs Sabres
Friday is fan appreciation night at the First Niagara Center and it will be the Sabres’ final home game of the season. Buffalo has compiled a 16-18-6 record in front of their home crowd and they will need to improve this record in the coming seasons. After a two game road trip, the Sabres return home to play Columbus which has struggled on the road with a 15-23-2 record away from Nationwide Arena.
The 2015-16 season has been a disappointing one for the Blue Jackets. Columbus is currently in 28th place in the NHL standings with 72 points. Cam Atkinson leads his club in scoring with 27 goals and 52 points. Meanwhile, Boone Jenner and Scott Hartnell are tied for the lead on the Blue Jackets with nine power play goals.
Friday night’s contest will be the last match of the season for brothers Marcus and Nick Foligno. In their two prior meetings this season, Marcus and Nick each have tallied an assist. Their upcoming game will be their final opportunity to gain the edge in scoring for bragging rights. Buffalo has outscored Columbus by an eight to two margin this season and has won both games thus far in the season series.
[See Also: Marcus Foligno Setting Career Highs]
Saturday, April 10th, 2016 – Sabres vs Islanders
The Sabres will conclude their 2015-16 season in Brooklyn when they meet the New York Islanders at Barclays Center. The Islanders have recently clinched a playoff spot. The Islanders sit two points behind the New York Rangers for third in the Metropolitan Division with a game at hand
Buffalo has split the season series with the Islanders so far this season with each team tallying a total of three goals in these games. The Islanders’ scoring leader is forward John Tavares who has notched 31 goals and 67 points. He is trailed by forward Kyle Okposo who has 22 goals and 62 points.
Ryan O’Reilly has exploded on offense in recent games for the Sabres. The forward has three goals in two games so far in the month of April. His 21 goals and 59 points leads Buffalo and to date he has played in 69 regular season games. Jack Eichel has also performed well for the Sabres in recent games with four points in his last three games. The rookie is second on the Sabres in scoring with 24 goals and 54 points through 80 games.
Another major reason for Buffalo’s recent success is strong play by goaltender Chad Johnson. Johnson has 22 wins in 45 appearances with the Sabres this season which is a career high. He has a .920 save percentage and 2.36 GAA which are respectable numbers for the veteran netminder.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW