Why each on the bubble team will make the NHL playoffs and why they won’t

The NHL playoffs will be here before we know it, and as always, there are a slew of on the bubble teams looking to sneak into a wild card spot.

Arizona Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings
Arizona Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres have played like anything but a playoff team this season, as even stringing together two straight wins seemed like a luxury. However, they also haven’t embarked on many losing streaks, and have finally played like the team its fan base expected when the calendar turned to 2024. 

Buffalo is still a young team that only ‘bought’ a 22-year-old defenseman at the trade deadline while they traded away key assets Casey Mittelstadt, Kyle Okposo, and Erik Johnson. Despite the trades, the Sabres only find themselves three points back from the second wild card spot with wins over the Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Vegas Golden Knights, and New York Islanders in March. 

For the past three seasons, the Sabres have saved their best hockey for the final few weeks. It happened last season after a pedestrian stretch in the first three weeks of March. We also saw it occur in 2022 when the Sabres won roughly two-thirds of their games in the season's last two months. 

If the Sabres goaltending stays consistent, and if they finally start scoring at a high-octane pace, there is a chance the league’s youngest team finally breaks through. But just like last year, they aren’t in control of their destiny, so they will need help to clinch a wild card spot.