The Sabres get to sit and watch teams pick up points on them

February 20, 2017
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For the next five days all the Sabres can do is sit helplessly at home and watch the 10 teams around them play games and pick up points.
 
Buffalo goes into the bye week with 62 points which is four points behind Boston for the Atlantic Division’s third playoff spot and three points in back of Toronto for the Eastern Conference’s last Wild Card spot.
 
When you look at the schedule this week, it really could be a lot worse for Buffalo than it is. There are only three games where two teams that you don't want to get points are playing each other. Those games are Ottawa at Carolina, Ottawa at New Jersey and the Islanders at Detroit.  
 
Here’s a closer look at what’s coming up.
 
Buffalo leads Carolina by six points. The Hurricanes are home against Pittsburgh and Ottawa.
 
The Sabres are four points ahead of Detroit. The Red Wings only have that game against the Isles.
 
Next come New Jersey and Tampa Bay at 60 points. The Devils host Ottawa while the Lightning has home games versus the Oilers and Flames.
 
Philadelphia leads Buffalo by one point with just one game this week at home against Washington.
 
The Islanders and Florida are two in front of the Sabres. The Isles have road games in Detroit and Montreal while the Panthers are at St. Louis and home against Edmonton and Calgary.
 
Toronto will be home for two games this week. The Leafs play the Rangers and Winnipeg.
 
Boston is out west to face Anaheim and Los Angeles.
 
Buffalo is six in back of Ottawa. The Sens are at New Jersey and Carolina.
 
If you want to you can put first place Montreal in this too. Buffalo is just eight behind the Canadiens. The Habs are at the Rangers and host the Islanders.
 
The bye week was negotiated between the NHL and the NHLPA to allow the All-Star Game to be a 3-on-3 game.
 
Coaches hate the bye week and teams are not coming out of it well. So far 20 teams have had their bye weeks and their record coming out is 4-12-4.  Brian Gionta said on Sunday’s Post Game Show that he doesn’t like it either, “I’d rather have the games more spread out, I mean we’ll see how this all turns out, but this week long break compresses it a lot and I think at the end of the day, I’d rather have a couple of three day breaks.”
 
Some of the players are going to head out on vacations and some will just go home. This is professional sports and Gionta has told them what he expects them to be doing, “That’s part of being a professional, you’ve got to do the right things. You’ve got to do the things when guys aren’t looking when you’re off on your break. You’ve got to make sure that you’re still preparing to make sure that you’re ready for that Colorado and Arizona back-to-back when we come out because that’s part of maturing as a team.”
 
With 11 games in 19 days, Bylsma told the players he wants them to get some rest, but he also needs them to stay in shape, “It’s a long time for being off the ice and we have to be ready coming out of the break to play our best hockey, so have a break, put your feet in the sand a little bit, but also take care of yourselves, get a workout in because it comes quick.”