They could have a tougher road in the conference, with Ottawa remaining solid and Buffalo attempting to get tougher over the extended offseason. Along with last year’s late-season acquisition of center Cody Hodgson, the Sabres added center Steve Ott and wing John Scott to a team that missed the playoffs in 2012.
‘‘I think it’s going to add to the rivalries that are already there, and also the competitiveness,’’ Lucic said. ‘‘There are only two teams that made the playoff last year from our division. ... And with less games I think it’s going to create a much tougher battle for that first seed in the Northeast Division.’’