What’s Left For The Buffalo Sabres to Play For In 2013?

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Buffalo Sabres were eliminated from the playoffs on Friday by the New York Rangers. With one week equaling three games remaining in the 2013 season, is there anything the Sabres have to play for?

Recently, the Sabres have shown some improvement in key areas. The offense has gained a little steam in the past few games. The powerplay has finally found its stride. The game against the Rangers aside, the Sabres have also found that backup goalie Jhonas Enroth may be up to the task for an increased role.

This upcoming offseason will be crucial for fans, players and staff alike as the team is entering into a full rebuild. More than likely GM Darcy Regier will be relieved of his duties after failing to provide the right players for the team. Usually if a GM goes so does the head coach, which means Ron Rolston could place extra significance on these final three games to help strengthen his case for any future employment with the Sabres or otherwise. The players of course will want to make a good impression on owner Terry Pegula and other GMs across the league to make themselves more attractive in hopes of either signing a big deal in free agency or getting a trade. And finally the last three games could give some of the younger or fringe players a chance to prove they are ready to contribute in the NHL.

In the coming games, the Sabres will hopefully play, at the very least, Mikhail Grigorenko to give him a little more NHL experience. They also may be able to call up the two prospects they received in the Jason Pominville trade, goalie Matt Hackett and forward Johan Larsson, to let the fans see what the team received after trading the beloved Pominville. Also, keep on eye on the powerplay unit. Their inspired play in the past few games has actually lifted them out of dead-last in powerplay percentage and if they can continue that trend it could go a long way in helping both Rolston’s case to remain head coach as well as help whoever the GM will be to show certain players have chemistry with each other.

The Sabres also have a chance to shake up the playoffs as their last three games come against teams either competing for a spot or seeding. The Sabres could really hurt any shot that the Winnipeg Jets have of making the playoffs by beating them on Monday. In the final game of the season the Sabres play the New York Islanders, who at that point could either be clinging to a playoff spot or simply fighting for the sixth seed – their current standing – in hopes of facing the weakest division leader in the Washington Capitals.

 

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