This is actually stemming from a post that I read at DoubleEdgedSabres.com that talked about a post from Puck Daddy.
The post from Puck Daddy pretty much said that the Sabres were like the other teams in the Eastern Conference trying to get a playoff spot. However, I strongly disagree with that.
The Sabres are a lock for the playoffs. In fact, they will probably finish in the top three. Right now, they are six points ahead of the Boston Bruins in the division and nine points out of eighth place.
Over the entire season, scoring has been an issue. Right now, they are 22nd in the NHL in offense. However, the Bruins are in 28th. The difference for both teams is defense.
On the blue line, the Sabres beat just about everybody. The only people that have a better defense than the Sabres are the Devils, who aren't in the division, and the Blackhawks, who aren't even in the conference.
Now, I don't want to underestimate the Ottawa Senators. They haven't been playing their best hockey recently (5-5-0 in their last 10), and when they're on, they're on. They could come back and take the division.
However, I think that's unlikely. They are having a little bit of trouble both offensively and defensively. They have the 17th best defense in the NHL, compared to Buffalo's third.
However, they are only slightly better than Buffalo in offense. They are 18th compared to Buffalo's 22nd.
And, they don't have the goaltending that Buffalo does. Ryan Miller is the best goalie in the NHL right now, leading the league with a 93.8% save percentage, and a 1.89 goals against average.
My point is that the Sabres will be able to ride to the playoffs with strong defense. Although I don't think that they'll finish higher than third, I do think they'll win the division and finish in third.
See more of my opinions at my blog, Tips for Hockey