After a roller coaster season, do the Buffalo Sabres really have a chance at the playoffs? They absolutely do, according to assistant coach James Patrick.
As the playoffs approach, one of the toughest challenges for the Sabres is "counting on someone else to help you out," said Patrick. "[As of this writing], we have 21 games left, and there are five teams competing for a playoff spot. We would need to win 15, 16 or 17 of those games" (depending upon the outcome of other teams' games). Not only do the Sabres have to winalmost all of their remaining games, but they are relying on other teams' records to help them out.
Although the Sabres started the season winning games, they have been plagued by injuries not only to the players but even to head coach Lindy Ruff. Patrick temporarily assumed the duties of head coach after Ruff suffered three broken ribs during an incident at practice on Feb. 6.
"It was definitely a unique experience and a challenge," Patrick said about stepping in as head coach. "I was proud to have the opportunity [to fill in during coach Ruff's absence]."
Patrick, along with Kevyn Adams and Teppo Numminen, "tried to prepare as much as possible" for the time that Ruff would miss due to his injury. All three assistant coaches attempted "to think the way Lindy would think," Patrick said.
About team captain Jason Pominville, Patrick said, "Jason is probably the forward with the most minutes. We know he gets tired, but he still gives everything he has and that's all you can ask for from a player."
With a renewed and healthy bench, the Sabres hope to make a run for the playoffs.
"We feel it is possible, and now we just have to prove it," Patrick said.
Rachel Ziarnowski is a junior at Holy Angels Academy.