Sabres to be Tested with November Schedule

After starting the season 2-6, the Sabres have won 5 of their last 7.  The hockey club is starting to gel with the new faces and are becoming a consistent team.  Buffalo may be hitting their stride just in time because they’re about to enter arguably the toughest stretch of their schedule.  Once November is over we may be able to tell if the Sabres are for real and are going to be a player in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Best of the West

The Sabres tough schedule began a few nights ago in Tampa Bay.  Over a ten game stretch the Sabres will face teams with a combined record of 55-37-8 entering play November 10th.  The remaining November schedule will feature a split of 5 games at home and 5 on the road. At the end of the month a tough week of 4 games in 6 nights awaits the Sabres.

(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Buffalo will have the pleasure of facing 3 of the current top 5 teams in Western Conference.  Sabres will match up two times each with Dallas, St. Louis and Nashville.  After this week the next four games will basically be a home and home series with Dallas and St. Louis.  Buffalo will start next week playing host to the Stars, followed by a trip to St. Louis, then another meeting with the Stars in Dallas and finished up with visit by St. Louis to First Niagara Center.  After that difficult week another home and home series is on the schedule this time with Nashville.

These six games in particular will be a very difficult test for the Sabres.  The Stars are a scoring machine with high-end speed, while the Blues are a big physical club who can also put the puck in the net and finally the Predators are a defensively sound team that looks to counter attack off of opponents turnovers.  All three teams pose separate, but very difficult challenges.  It’ll be very interesting to see how the new look Sabres matchup with 3 of the best teams in the league.

The Fillers

The other four games this month are filled by teams currently in the middle of the pack, but are potential playoff teams.  The Sabres open the ten game schedule with a trip to Florida and meetings with the Lightning and Panthers.  Tampa Bay is off to a rough start, but have had the Sabres number through the 3 meetings the teams have already had this season.  However, the

Patrick Marleau, Milestones, NHL, San Jose Sharks
(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Sabres were able to avoid the season sweep and start off the ten game period with a win.  Next up is a game with the Panthers who the Sabres could be competing with for a playoff spot for.  This is definitely a winnable game and could get the club off to a great 2-0 start.

The final two games of the sequence are with the San Jose Sharks and Carolina Hurricanes.  The Sharks appeared to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference to start the season, but have gone 3-7 in their last ten games.  The skid has trade rumors swirling in San Jose in regards to Patrick Marleau.  Buffalo has the opportunity to pounce a struggling team at home and pick up another win before heading into the difficult final two weeks of the month.  The Hurricanes are off to similar start like the Sabres and the matchup is sandwiched between the games with Nashville at the end of the month.  This is perhaps the easiest matchup when you look at all ten games.

If the Sabres can take 2 of 3 games from Florida, San Jose and Carolina after a win already over Tampa Bay, they’ll be in good position with the remaining six games.  At worse, a 2-4 record in the meetings with the Stars, Blues and Predators will allow the Sabres to get through this difficult part of the schedule at 500.  I think getting 10 out of a possible 20 points would be a good job and set them up to be a playoff contender moving forward.  If the new look Sabres can pull off a winning record through this stretch of the calendar the club will have a lot of momentum heading into the second quarter of the season.