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Sabres lock up last place finish with 4-2 loss to Senators

Sabres lock up last place finish with 4-2 loss to Senators
Posted at 10:17 PM, Apr 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-04 22:17:57-04

For the third time in five seasons, the Buffalo Sabres will finish the season with the worst record in the NHL. With their 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, the Sabres become the first team in league history to finish in 31st place. 

Five observations from Wednesday's loss: 

It's finally over

11-25-5 -- The Sabres record on home ice this season 

Calling this season a disaster would be putting it lightly.  With just 11 wins at KeyBank Center, the Sabres tie a franchise record for the fewest wins on home ice in a season. What's even worse -- that stat includes seasons shortened by the lockout(s). It's safe to say the 2017-2018 team will go down as one of the worst teams in franchise history. 

More to be desired 

As we've said with Mittelstadt since his arrival in Buffalo, forming an opinion on a player after just a few games is unfair. That said, Nylander left plenty to be desired after his 2017-2018 Sabres debut. 

In the first period, Nylander was gift wrapped two quality chances on the same shift, failing to convert on both. In the second period, Nylander picked up the puck in the defensive zone and had just one defender to beat. Instead, he was pickpocketed by Senators third line center Zack Smith. 

An impressive outing for Nylander in the next two games would be nice to see. But his performance in the summer will be what makes or breaks his chances of making the team out of training camp. 

Another assist

In his four games with the Sabres, Casey Mittelstadt has some pretty weird assists. On Wednesday Mittelstadt tallied his third helper in four games on Kyle Okposo's goal. While Mittelstadt still hasn't found the back of the net, he's making some nice plays at both ends of the ice. 

As with Nylander, a big summer for Mittelstadt will go a long way. I'm expecting Mittelstadt to make the team out of training camp. But if the Sabres are going to improve, they'll need some serious production out of their 19-year-old forward. 

And the end of the season awards go to.......

Rookie of the Year -- Victor Antipin 
Unsung Hero -- Zemgus Girgensons
Man of the Year -- Zach Bogosian 
MVP -- Jack Eichel  

It says a lot that Victor Antipin was the rookie of the year on this team. That's not so much a knock on him, but an indication of how little production the Sabres got from their younger players. As for Girgensons, he was asked to do a lot this season, moving up and down the lineup. While he didn't produce offensively, Girgensons worked his tail off nearly every time he was on the ice.  

Time to start thinking about the draft

For those who aren't caught up, the NHL Draft lottery works a little different these days. Despite their last-place finish, the could still end up with the fourth-overall pick. As a matter of fact, mathematically, they are most likely to end up with the fourth selection. 

Here's a handy breakdown of how the odds work:

Chance Sabres get:
First-overall pick -- 18.5%
Second-overall pick -- 16.5%
Third-overall pick -- 14.4%
Fourth-overall pick -- 50.6% 

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