Monday, December 2, 2013

The first two months--team stats, individual stats, plus...

It's been a tumultuous two months to begin the 2013-14 season for the Buffalo Sabres and it's no surprise that they find themselves at the bottom of the league with a 6-20-2 record for a total of 14 points.

Presently, Florida sits in 29th place with 19 points, Edmonton and the NYI both have 20, Calgary has 22 and Columbus has 23.

The Sabres seem to be destined to finish at or near the bottom of the league and they'll probably end up with a top-3 pick in the 2014 draft, quite possibly the #1-overall pick and a shot at Sam Reinhart.

There's not much left of former GM Darcy Regier's team. In fact only goalie Ryan Miller and forward Drew Stafford pre-date 2007, unless you count defenseman Henrik Tallinder. The former 2nd round pick of Regier left for NJ for a couple of years before returning.

Regier's core is gone. The last of the forward group, Thomas Vanek, was shipped to the NYI for forward Matt Moulson and a conditional first round pick.

Vanek has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points in 24 total games. He had 4 goals and 4 assists in 13 games for Buffalo.

Those 17 points would place him in a tie with his former center in Buffalo, Cody Hodgson, atop the leaderboard in points. Vanek's 8 total goals would be two behind Moulson's 10 (Moulson has scored four for the Sabres,) and his nine assists would once again tie him with Hodgson for the team lead.

What's more pronounced statistically is Vanek's plus/minus rating. In Buffalo he was a minus-5 while in NY he is a plus-3.

The plus/minus in Buffalo is outright ugly. Of Sabres playing in 10 or more games, the best rating is a minus-2 from Johan Larsson. That "feat" was "accomplished" throughout the remnants of the Ron Rolston era as Larsson was sent down just after the head coach was fired along with Regier.

Zemgus Girgensons clocks in at a minus-3 through 27 games and, surprisingly, two much-maligned players--Ville Leino and Mikhail Grigorenko--are also minus-3.

At the bottom of the spectrum in that category is Mike Weber who has the dubious distinction of averaging a minus-1 through 15 games.

Steve Ott and Tyler Myers come in at minus-11 while Marcus Foligno is a minus-10. None of these three have played fewer than 25 games.

Despite being 2-5-1 under interim head coach Ted Nolan, the team has shown progress and may have bottomed out or are very close to bottoming out. They still can't score goals, but they seem to be finding more open ice and playing a much tighter game.

Eventually that will lead to more opportunities which should lead to more goals.

The Sabres have been shut out five times in 28 games (once under Nolan,) have scored one goal nine times (four [in a row] under Nolan) and have scored three or more goals only six times (once under Nolan.)

Here's a look at the Sabres team stats and their rank through the first two months of the season:

Goals per game--1.61 (30th)...#1, CHI--3.50

Shots per game--25.1 (29th)...SJS--35.8

Goals against--3.04 (24th)...BOS--1.96

Shots against--35.1 (29th)...NJD--24.5

5-on-5 goals for/against ratio--0.53 (30th)...STL--1.58

Powerplay--14.5% (24th)...PIT--25.3

Penalty Kill--78.7% (23rd)...VAN--88.8%

Face offs--46.8% (26th)...NSH--55%

As for individual stats, with an average of only 1.61 goals per game (1.50 under Nolan,) it's not surprising that the team has only two players in double digits in points--Hodgson and Moulson.

And as dictated by a 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio of 0.53, their top "scorers" have horrendous plus-minus ratings.

Here's the top five individually:

  • Hodgson-17
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-11
  • Drew Stafford-9
  • Tyler Ennis-9
  • Marcus Foligno, Tyler Myers-8
  • Hodgson-8
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-4
  • Ennis-4
  • Foligno-3
  • Ott-3
  • Hodgson-9
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-7
  • Stafford-7
  • Myers-6
  • Girgensons-6
Powerplay goals
  • Hodgson-4
  • Ennis-2
  • Ott-2
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-1
  • Myers, Jamie McBain-1
Powerplay assists
  • Hodgson-4
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-4
  • Myers-3
  • Ennis-2
  • Leino, Mark Pysyk-2
Shooting % (10 games or more)
  • Moulson (Sabres' stats only)-12.9
  • Hodgson-12.3
  • McBain-11.8
  • Foligno-11.1
  • Tallinder, Grigorenko-10.0
***Of note, Moulson has played in 15 games for the Buffalo Sabres.

It's about as rough a two months as any hockey fan would want to go through and with more changes in the offing--namely the strong possibility of Miller and/or Moulson and/or Ott and/or Tallinder getting traded--there's sure to be more "suffering" on the way.

But the way the team has been playing as of late will help cushion the blow.

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