Buffalo Sabres Can't Seem to Solve the Ottawa Senators

Matthew Hogan@MattNHLHoganAnalyst IMarch 27, 2010

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 3:  Jesse Winchester #18 of the Ottawa Senators checks Henrik Tallinder #10 of the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on February 3, 2010 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres better start praying to the hockey gods that they don’t get matched up with the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs.

After a 4-2 loss to the Sens on Friday night, Buffalo dropped to 0-4-1 this season against their Northeast Division rivals.

They have been outscored 18-9 by Ottawa in those five games.

“They’re playing a certain kind of system against us and it goes against our group of forwards,” Sabres goalie Ryan Miller told the Associated Press after the loss. “We’ve got to suck it up and play a better game.”

But the struggles against the Senators are nothing new for the Sabres. Buffalo has not beaten Ottawa in nine straight games dating back to last season and has lost 25 of 35 games since the lockout.

The last time the Sabres won against Ottawa was Jan. 6, 2009.

If the Sabres were to match up with the Sens in the first round, this season’s games wouldn’t be the only thing on their minds.

Anyone remember the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals? I’m sure it’s still fresh on Miller’s mind.

Daniel Alfredsson’s overtime goal in game five put the Senators into the Stanley Cup Finals, upsetting the NHL’s best team at the time in the Sabres.

A big reason for Buffalo’s troubles with the Sens this season lies within the Sabres’ power play. They are just 2-24 with the extra man against Ottawa—and don’t think it hasn’t been noticed.

“Our special-teams players didn’t compete hard enough,” Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff told the Associated Press after Friday’s loss. “I was angry with the power play in general. That’s where the lack of compete came in.”

For the moment, Buffalo will be playing the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. The Sabres are 4-0-1 against the Habs this season.

But there is plenty of time left, and a lot of movement can occur in that time.

If the hockey gods do not favor the Sabres in the closing weeks and Buffalo gets paired up with Ottawa in the first round, it might be an early exit for the boys from Buffalo.

Historically, the hockey gods have not helped the Sabres—see “Brett Hull’s skate” for any further details.


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