The Buffalo Sabres remain a favorite of the national TV networks, in spite of their league-worst finish last season.
The team has its fans squarely to thank for that appeal.
NBC announced this past week that the Sabres will play in 11 national games in the 2014-15 season on NBC and the NBC Sports Network. That's behind only the 12 appearances each by a group of playoff teams – the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Those 11 appearances are all the more impressive when combined with the fact that a team from the nation's No. 1 market, the New York Islanders, won't make a single appearance. They're not much good, either, but they did make the playoffs two years ago and play in a market about 10 times the size of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls market.
The bottom line is that the schedulers recognize the Sabres are a draw no matter what. Buffalo's local games on MSG were the second-highest-rated local games in the NHL, behind only the Pittsburgh Penguins. And the Buffalo market routinely finished in the top 10 during the Stanley Cup playoffs, which were played without the Sabres for a third straight season.
That the Sabres continue to be supported despite their distinct lack of stars (especially at the end of last season) is a testament to their loyalty. That the networks have recognized it is all the more praiseworthy.
The Sabres' national schedule is as follows:
- Oct. 14 at Carolina, 7:30 p.m
- Nov. 11 at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
- Nov. 18 vs. San Jose, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 2 vs. Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
- Dec. 9 vs. Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m.
- Jan. 18 at Detroit, 8 p.m.
- Feb. 15 vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
- Feb. 17 at New Jersey, 7:30 p.m.
- March 3 at Tampa Bay, 7:30 p.m.
- March 16 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.
- March 17 at Boston, 7:30 p.m.
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