Feeling Badly for the Sabres
By Patrick Hoffman
Every year, the Buffalo Sabres go into the season with such promise and high hopes.
That was certainly the case this season. With a new head coach behind the bench, a healthy Jack Eichel, and a decent cast offensively, many fans and pundits alike expected the Sabres to take a big step this season and even possibly be a threat in the Atlantic Division.
Fast forward to today (January 30, 2018) and it has been anything but pretty for this hockey club. As of this writing (January 30, 2018), the team finds themselves last in the Atlantic Division and second to last in the entire National Hockey League with 37 points (14-26-9).
So, where did this team go wrong? For starters, this team has a lot of trouble scoring goals.
The Sabres are currently (January 30, 2018) last in the league in goals scored with 114 goals in 49 games. This means that they average 2.33 goals for per game, which is far below the league average.
The only players that seem to be producing for this team are Eichel (20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points), Evander Kane (16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points), Ryan O' Reilly (13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points), and Kyle Okposo (9 goals and 20 assists for 29 points). Besides Eichel, these outputs are extremely low for a team that was expected to have a balanced offense this season.
Another problem that this team is having is being able to keep the puck out of their net. As of this writing (January 30, 2018), the team is 29th in the league in goals against with 162 goals allowed in 49 games.
This means that the team is averaging about 3.31 goals against per game, which is awful. The club certainly cannot blame their starting netminder Robin Lehner as he has actually put up some respectable numbers with a 2.87 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and three shutouts.
Lastly, this team has struggled on their special teams. The Sabres currently rank 26th in the league with the man advantage (16 percent conversation rate) and 23rd in the league on the penalty kill (78.6 percent), which certainly does not help things either.
In looking at everything mentioned above, it is very easy to feel sorry for this franchise. The organization has terrific fan base, does everything they can year in and year out to make the team better, and bring in a new manager and coach to right the ship.
Unfortunately, the results just are not there. As such, it is also easy to see why that once again, they will miss out on the postseason.
It really is just a sad situation all around.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.