After two straight seasons with no playoffs, the Buffalo Sabres have finally returned to the postseason and are primed for a Stanley Cup run.
The Sabres are being overlooked by a lot of teams and critics, which may bode well for the club.
“That’s kind of what we want, to come in and surprise teams,” Sabres’ leading-scorer Derek Roy told ESPN.com.
Buffalo has not been the roller coaster of a team it was known for being in the past two seasons. While the team did go on one or two lengthy losing streaks, they were fairly steady all season.
“We’ve tried to keep an even keel all year long and not let the highs get too high and the lows get too low,” Roy said. “We’ve had a consistent season, and we’re trying to bring that into the playoffs.”
Buffalo has been plagued by a few injuries as of late. Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht, and Drew Stafford were all questionable at the end of the regular season.
Connolly will more than likely be ready to go for the first game of Buffalo’s first-round series against the Boston Bruins, but Hecht is still questionable and Stafford will likely miss the opening game.
“I want to make sure I’m 100 percent before I come back,” Stafford told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
Despite the injuries, the Sabres will be rolling all four lines as they normally would.
Rookie Tyler Ennis will fill in for Stafford and hopefully continue his hot streak. He has eight points in nine games since being recalled on March 27.
“I’d say we pretty much play all four lines more than any other team in the league,” said Roy. “We roll four lines really well. We get everyone playing and get everyone in the game. That shows how deep we are, and that’s going to be important at playoff time. Everybody feels rested and ready to go, and we're going to need a different hero every night. Everyone has to step up.”
Balance is definitely something the Sabres will be relying on throughout the postseason, which shouldn’t be a problem for the league’s most balanced team.
The Sabres did not have one player reach the 70-point plateau, yet they were 11th in the NHL in scoring and were the only team to have 12 players with at least 10 goals.
As most teams will tell you, the key to winning in the playoffs is depth—Buffalo has plenty of that, and is ready to go for a deep playoff run.