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Sabres Struggling to Hold onto Playoff Spot

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The Buffalo Sabres getting their stuffing knocked out of them

Buffalo, NY (AP) - With a little less than half a season to go, the Buffalo Sabres need to quickly find their form if they’re hoping to return to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. Though they began the year firing on all cylinders and leading their division, that seems a distant memory now as the Sabres currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference, four points up on a surging ninth-place Ottawa Sentators team.

There are a lot of reasons for their recent poor play, with many players citing the poor Buffalo weather and general midseason malaise. However, the biggest culprit has been their terrible record in close games. An inability to rise above adversity has led to a 2-7 record in games decided by one goal in the past month. This has led to them being two games below .500 despite a positive goal differential of ten.

“We’re winning big and losing close games,” said the Buffalo GM. “When the floodgates are open and the goals are rolling, the boys are playing with confidence and to their full potential. But when things are tight and the pressure mounts, we haven’t responded. It’s disheartening, and we’re all looking for answers.”

Despite searching for solutions, management does not seem ready to make any big transactional changes just yet. “We have entertained a few offers here and there, but we believe that the answers are all in this locker room,” said GM Mok. “We just need to find the right line combinations and buttons to push to get the most out of the guys.”

A few players have shone brightly despite the dark days in KeyBank Center. Nikolai Khabibulin continues to lead the team from the back, putting on dazzling performances after signing a five-year contract extension to keep him in the 716. Other re-signings playing well so far include new addition Stu Barnes (team-leading 54 points), captain Miro Satan (tied for fifth in the league with 26 goals), and the oft-injured Vitaly Yachmenev (5 points in his past 4 games).

The most disappointing player this year has been veteran superstar Alexander Mogilny. After back-to-back 80 point seasons, Mogilny signed a five-year, $25 million deal in the off-season and was expected to continue his consistent production at the offensive end. Unfortunately, it has been a season from hell for the Russian as his 29 points are even less than Sabres defender Pavel Kubina (30 points), a player more known for his physicality rather than playmaking.

Mogilny and co. will be looking to snap out of their collective slump when they return home later today to face off against the New York Islanders, who sit two spots ahead of them in the Eastern Conference.

The transaction deadline is fast approaching, and if little changes on the ice, trade winds may soon blow.