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Numbers games: Playing to the opponent

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

PIT 2-1-0
BOS 3-2-0
WAS 0-2-1
MON 3-2-0
TOR 2-1-1
NYI 1-1-0
OTT 1-2-1
NYR  1-1-1

Vs. Bottom 7

WPG 0-3-0
NJD 2-0-1
PHL 2-1-0
CAR 0-3-0
TBL 2-1-0
FLA 1-1-1

Vs. Top 8: 13-12-4
Vs. Bot 7: 7-9-2
Total: 20-21-6


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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |