With the NHL's realignment, the Buffalo Sabres enter into a division that has some of the stiffest competition. The Sabres were already the only team in the Northeast Division to miss the playoffs, but in Division C the Sabres will welcome the Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers into the division.
While the Sabres haven't made the playoffs since 2011-2012 and are in the process of a rebuild in an attempt to make a long-term run at a Stanley Cup, the rest of the division is making their case for the playoffs now.
The Detroit Red Wings are one of the most successful franchises in the NHL. Their long tradition of winning and their desire to always be the very best have driven the team to make the playoffs every season since the 1989-1990 season. In that stretch, the Red Wings have won four Stanley Cups, including their last one in 2007-2008.
The Ottawa Senators have been steadily climbing up the division and are heading in a new direction after losing Daniel Alfredsson to Detroit. The Senatorss haven't missed the playoffs since 2010-2011 and appeared in the Cup finals in 2006-2007 against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Montreal Canadiens made the playoffs in 2012-2013 and are hoping to continue that streak. They have not missed the playoffs in consecutive years since 2000-2001. Montreal is looking to start making a run for the division title with a solid core and good goaltending.
The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup in 2003-2004 and lost in the conference finals in 2010-2011. Other than those two seasons, the times have been tough in Tampa. The team has missed the playoffs more than they have made them since winning the Cup. the 2010-2011 season was their last trek into the postseason, but when Tampa gets there, they often do see success.
The Florida Panthers made the playoffs in 2011-2012. That ended a drought of 10 straight seasons that ended before the playoffs. Florida again missed the playoffs last season, but the Panthers are looking to right the ship.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a storied franchise that haven't been as great lately. The Leafs made the playoffs last season and watch their hopes diminish as the Bruins came from way behind to beat them in game seven of the first round. The Leafs hadn't made the playoffs in 2003-2004 and are hoping to make consecutive postseasons since then. Toronto is a team that could be on the rise.
The Boston Bruins have been a successful franchise the past few seasons. With two Cup appearances and one Cup win, the Bruins have a bright future. The Bruins haven't missed the playoffs since 2006-2007. The Bruins have consistently turned out good seasons with solid goaltending.
Division C is loaded with talented teams and teams that are on the rise. The Buffalo Sabres will find that this season will turn out to be tougher than most, especially in year one of rebuilding the team in an attempt to bring long-term success to the franchise. With a different feel to the division and new foes to fight for a playoff spot, the Sabres will have to make adjustments in order to see some success this season.
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