It may be hard to believe, but the Buffalo Sabres have less than two months and only 26 games remaining in the regular season. As things stand now, the Sabres (56 points) are eight points behind the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators (64 points each) for the final playoff spots in the Atlantic Division. In the Wild Card chase, the Sabres are five points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs (61 points), who currently hold the last playoff spot.
The good news -- Making up five points in 26 games isn't impossible.
The bad news -- Literally every team in the Eastern Conference is still alive and five teams separate the Sabres and the Maple Leafs for the final Wild Card spot.
On Tuesday against the Senators the Sabres have a chance to inch closer to a coveted playoff spot, depending of course how things play out around the league.
Here are the games to keep and eye on:
New York Islanders (60 points) at Toronto Maple Leafs (61 points) -- 7:30 p.m.
If the Islanders win they'll leapfrog the Leafs into the final Wild Card spot.
Colorado Avalanche vs. New Jersey Devils (56 points)
The Devils hold the tiebreaker with the Sabres because they've played one less game. If the basement dwelling Avalanche can knock off the Devils, they'd be doing Buffalo a big favor. The Avs and Sabres meet at KeyBank Center on Thursday evening.
Who to root for:
This may be pretty obvious, but root for the Sabres to knock off the Senators, Avs to knock off the Devils and a regulation win in the Islanders vs. Maple Leafs game. Three-point games are not ideal.
Best case scenario:
The Sabres bypass both the Devils (if they lose) and the Tampa Bay Lightning with a win. If the Islanders beat the Leafs the Sabres would be four points out of a playoff spot.
Worst case scenario:
Sabres lose, Devils win, Maple Leafs beat the Islanders in OT/shootout. If that all happens the Sabres would be seven points out of the final Wild Card playoff spot.
Quick game notes vs. the Senators
Robin Lehner will start for the Sabres. He's 3-0-1 against his former team. This season the Sabres are 3-0-1 against the Senators.
Evander Kane is sick and will be a game-time decision. If he can't go, expect Nicholas Deslauriers to dress and Matt Moulson to play left wing on the Sabres 'second' line with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
Zach Bogosian returns to the blue line after missing the Sabres last six games. Taylor Fedun will sit in place of Bogosian.