Thursday, February 16, 2012

2002/03 revisited

The Buffalo Sabres have scored 137 goals in 56 games for an average of 2.44 goals/game. At that pace they'll end up with a total of roughly 200 goals this season.

For some perspective, they have not scored that little since the 2002/03 season when they scored a grand total of 190 goals en route to the fifth worst record in the league.

Miro Satan lead the team in goals that seasons with 26. He was followed by Ales Kotalik (21,) Curtis Brown and Chris Gratton (15 each,) J.P. Dumont and Taylor Pyatt (14 each,) and Tim Connolly (12.)

That 2002/03 team was the remnants of the "hardest working team in hockey" of the late '90's and would soon be rebuilt into "the team built for the New NHL."

The remnants of that 2005-2007 "Ferrari" team make up the present group that is on a pace to end up with a top-five pick in this year's draft. And, oddly enough, wingers are predominant in the goal-scoring department. Although the leader should surpass the 26 goals of Satan, they probably will not have the number of double-digit goal scorers (9) the 2002/03 team had.

Plus-minus is another dismal stat for this edition of the Sabres. Hearkening back to 2002/03, that team had five players in the double-digit negative lead by Connolly's minus-28. Jay McKee (-16,) Dumont (-14,) captain Stu Barnes (-13,) and Maxim Afinogenov (-12) rounded out the bottom-five.

As for the present team none should come close to Connolly's minus-28, but it looks as if more than five have a good shot at negative double-digit.

That 2002/03 team was 25th in the league five-on-five (0.84,) 20th in powerplay efficiency (14.4%,) and t-6th (Detroit) in penalty kill (85.4%.)

This edition presently sits 18th five on five (0.93,) 19th on the power play (16.9%,) and 18th on the kill (81.5%.)

In goal, Martin Biron was the starter back then and he went 17-28-6 with a 2.56 gaa and a .908 sv. %. The team ranked 13th in the league in goals against/game with 2.67.

Ryan Miller is 16-17-3 with a 2.75 gaa and a .909 sv. % while the team ranks 22nd in goals against/game (2.84.)

What does this all mean?

The roller coaster ride is near the bottom again.

Since Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff took over, they peaked in '99 with the Stanley Cup Final loss. The team that previous GM John Muckler built, was dismantled and the Sabres proceeded to bottom out getting the fifth overall pick in 2003. They were rebuilt by Regier and rose again, reaching the semi-finals in back-to-back seasons (2006, 2007.) They were dismantled again in the summer of 2007 and are now about to bottom out again.

Will Regier and Ruff be in charge of another rebuild/retool?

Who knows. But if you took a Cup Finals team and dismantled it, built an era-specific team that only went as far as a Conference Finals, and are looking at a lottery pick this season, I'd say no.

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