It looks almost certain that we`re going to finish 4th or 5th. So what does this mean?
On the positive side: They don`t have to kill themselves winning games that won`t really make a difference in the standings (I know home ice in the 1st round hasn`t been clinched, but that`s not a huge deal.) This gives them an opportunity to reduce the icetime on the older players so they`re rested for the playoffs. Plus they can experiment more with line combos and strategies.
On the negative side: Remember what happened to the Indianapolis Colts last year. If you end the year on a lazy note, it can be tough to automatically turn on the switch at playoff time.
A similar situation happened to us in `93. For the last month it was obvious that we would finish 4th in the division. Hartford was over 20 points behind us and Quebec, Montreal and Boston were over 15 points ahead of us. The Sabres ended the year on a 7 game losing streak. A lot of people were worried, but then we beat the 1st place Bruins 4 straight in the 1st round.
I`m not too worried about the current losing streak.
It's not the LOSING I'm concerned about.
It's the way they're playing and the lack of heart, hustle, grittiness and all the other intangibles. If their style of play doesn't change soon, I'd become extremely worried that they expended too much early in the season.