By Mike Harrington
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised about the Sabres' 4-2 win Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. That's two wins over the East-leading Penguins at Consol Energy Center and a loss against them in Buffalo in a game the Sabres were leading well into the third period.
What gives when the Sabres play good teams? In the last couple weeks, interim coach Ron Rolston and several players were as baffled by this thought when I asked them as I am.
Steve Ott told me there's much more fear of embarrassment when you play a good team and your level of play rises. Makes sense. More attention to detail, fewer mistakes.
The results are evident. Check out the numbers. They're just plain goofy.
The Sabres are 13-12-4 against teams currently ranked 1-8 and thus currently in the Eastern Conference playoffs. That's 30 of 58 points, or a .517 percentage.
The Sabres are 7-9-2 against teams out of the top eight. That's just 16 of 36 points (.444).
Even worse is the fact Buffalo is 8-7-1 against the top four in the East (Pittsburgh, Boston, Washington, Montreal) -- and just 5-6-1 against the bottom four (Philadelphia, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Florida). And the Sabres are 0-3 against ninth-place Winnipeg. That's a ton of points left on the table.
Here are the records against each team heading into Friday's finale against the Islanders.
Vs. Top 8
Vs. Bottom 7
Vs. Top 8: 13-12-4
Vs. Bot 7: 7-9-2