The Buffalo Sabres have been a model of inconsistency thus far this year. Their longest winning steak was just three back in early November and their longest losing streak was six, another run that was in November. That run was all against really good Western Conference teams, but it still can't be ignored that the Sabres longest losing streak is double the length of their longest win streak.
O'Reilly has been electric for the Sabres thus far this year
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Sabres are playing better as of late and have a chance to match their longest win streak tonight at home against New Jersey in what begins a run of games that could show how legit this Sabres team really is. The run will last until January 2nd before Buffalo plays Florida and then takes another short Western road trip and will include eight important games.
Tonight vs New Jersey: The Devils are surprisingly in the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, a spot that Buffalo will want to get. The Sabres are currently five points out and a win here will get fans believing in the team even more than they already do. Having a lot of young potential is nice, but having something to play for come February and March is even nicer. Catching up to the Wild Card teams is obviously the best way to do that.
Thursday vs Anaheim: Anaheim has struggled this entire season, but still has playoff talent. The Sabres need to show that they can jump out to an early lead against a struggling team. The Sabres often fall behind early and have to rally back. It would be great to see them start out a first period well and take an early lead.
Saturday vs Chicago: Playing Chicago is always a good test for how good your team really is. Can they shut down Pat Kane, who is having a historic season and can they stop Jonathan Toews, who has been electric in seemingly every Sabres game he plays in.
Saturday Dec 26 at Boston: Another Wild Card opponent and a rival on the road. Buffalo seems to be rising while Boston seems to be falling in the Eastern Conference standings. What's not clear is whether the Sabres have past the Bruins in the NHL hierarchy. This game could show us the answer.
Monday Dec 28 and Wednesday Dec 30 Home and Home against Washington: To be the best you have to beat the best. An old cliche, but still has some truth to it. Washington is a team that doesn't seem to have any weaknesses until playoff time so beating them in the regular season is always a boost. They have all the pieces of a cup contender. Even if they Sabres can get just one of these two games it will be a victory.
The Capitals have been one of the best in the NHL this year
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday Dec 31 vs NY Islanders: As good as Washington is, the Islanders are only three points behind them. A New Year's Eve battle with the talented team from Brooklyn at home in which the Sabres come away with a win could spark the team to continue winning in January.
Saturday Jan 2 vs Detroit: The Red Wings again. If the Sabres have a winning record going into this game against Detroit, they will be in the thick of the Wild Card Race and will have another chance to defeat the Red Wings. Last night, they had a well-earned comeback victory even while not playing their best. Maybe the Sabres can get a win to start the new year right.
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Not saying that the Sabres need to win all these games to prove they are a playoff contender, but a winning record in these games could boost their season to another level.