Monday, January 2, 2017

Buffalo Sabres 2016-17 Team Stats--December

After 36 games the Buffalo Sabres find themselves in a familiar spot in the standings. Last season the Sabres were 28th in the league with 34 points at the end of December and they have the same number of points and are 28th the standings again, albeit having played two less games.

It's deja vu for the Sabres as the team stats we're about to go over are stunningly similar to what we saw at the end of 2015. The exception might be the Sabres year-over-year goal-differential which is 10 goals worse at -23 than they were at this point last season. That can be attributed to being slightly worse in both goals-for and goals-against. To this point last season Buffalo was averaging 2.29 g/gm (28th in the league) while this year 2.14 g/gm (also 28th) while their goals-against is was 2.58 ga/gm (14th) 2.67 ga/gm (also 14th.)

The shots-for and shots-against were almost exactly the same as well. At the end of December last season they were averaging 29.7 sh/gm (15th) while this year it's 29.5 sh/gm (17th.)  On the defensive side Buffalo allowed 29.4 sa/gm (16th) last year as opposed to 29.5 sa/gm (17th) this year.

There were larger year-over-year differences in special teams, however, yet in the end they pretty much canceled each other out. The powerplay last year converted at a 19.3% (15th) clip to this point  and this year they've converted on 21.6 % of their opportunities (9th) yet the penalty kill has fallen to the bottom of the league. Last year they killed at a 77.4% rate (25th) and this year it's dropped to 73.9%.

Add it all up and this edition of the Sabres is about the same numbers-wise but while they remained stagnant, other teams in the division and conference have gotten better. Last season they were seventh in the division, 15th in the conference, this year they're dead last.

It's been a maddening 2016 portion of the season for those of us who expected better, and in some cases much better, from this team. To be the nearly the exact same team as last season is unacceptable, even in light of the numerous injuries, some crippling, that the Sabres have endured so far this season.

The pieces were supposedly in place to take a step forward but it hasn't worked out that way to this point and many are getting restless, especially in light of two consecutive losses in regulation to a team they're chasing in the Atlantic Division. After blowing a two-goal lead at home against the Bruins the Sabres were hand-cuffed in Boston yesterday afternoon and lost 3-1. A six-point deficit against the division's third place team is now at 10 points which is at the very least, a tough hill to climb.

If Sabres fans think they're frustrated, according to reporters in the Buffalo locker room after the loss yesterday afternoon Jack Eichel, the face of the franchise, took the frustrations of everyone in Sabreland out on some equipment as he blew up.

From Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News:

"After a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in TD Garden that wasn't nearly as close as the score might say, a red-faced Eichel went berserk. He fired some pieces of equipment into his duffel bag, pounded others on his locker seat and drove the bag hard into the rubberized floor at one point.

"There were also some choice four-letter words spliced into the outburst of Eichel, who stormed out of the room without speaking to reporters."

Thank you, Jack. The kind of frustration and anger you showed has been the same anger and frustration eating away at Buffalo sports fans for decades, only we can't get the attention of owner Terry Pegula, team president Russ Brandon or GM Tim Murray like an outburst from the face of the franchise can.

The numbers show that what Murray put together, and that may include the coaching staff, needs some attention. The main parts--Eichel, center Ryan O'Reilly and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, are in place and there are some others who are nice complimentary pieces. But like fans have been saying for a while, there is some serious dead weight that needs to be removed and it shows in the numbers.

While compiling these stats I was thankful that I didn't need to write about last night's stinker in Boston, but coming up with stats that are almost exactly the same as last year wasn't very fun either as what we're left with is the same team as last season. The thing that has changed, however, is expectations. Last year we were fine coming out of the "tank years" with a struggling team in transition as they ended up taking a grand, relative step forward. But the expectation for this season was for them to continue progressing. They haven't and as we can see from the empty seats at KeyBank Center and as we hear those in attendance booing their home team, this team isn't anywhere near where anyone thought they should/could be.

Some say it's the players, some say it's the coaches while others lay the blame at the higher ups from Pegula to Brandon to Murray. I doubt any of them are happy with the product so far but the big question is to any of them have the capacity to fix it?

That will be the debate amongst fans in the coming months.

Happy New Year everyone. I wish I had something better to offer, but here are the team stats at the end of December, 2016.

Buffalo Sabres Team Stats/League Rankings...(Leader):


--October:  3 (T-23rd)...(MTL, 8)
--November:  8 (T-28th)...(MTL, NYR, 16)
--December:  13 (28th)...(CBJ, 26)

--2015-16: 35 (23rd)...(WSH, 56)
--2014-15: 23 (30th)...(ANA, 49)

Atlantic Division Standing

--October:  7th...(MTL)
--November:  8th...(MTL)
--December:  8th  (MTL)

--2015-16:  7th...(FLA)
--2014-15:  8th...(MTL)

Eastern Conference Standing

--October:  12th...(MTL)
--November:  15th...(MTL)
--December:  16th...(CBJ)

--2015-16: 14th...(WSH)
--2014-15: 16th...(NYR)

League standing/Points

--October:  20th/8...(MTL/17)
--November:  28th/21...(MTL/34)
--December:  28th/34...(CBJ/56)

--2015-16:  23rd/81...(WSH/120)
--2014-15:  30th/54...(NYR/113)

Points Percentage

--October:  .500 (T-15th)...(MTL, .944)
--November:  .477 (26th)...(MTL, .739)
--December:  .472 (28th)...(CBJ, .800)

--2015-16:  .494 (23rd)...(WSH, .732)
--2014-15:  .329 (30th)...(NYR, .689)

Goal Differential

--October:  -1 (16th)...(MTL, +17)
--November:  -13 (25th)...(NYR, +29)
--December:  -23 (27th)...(CBJ, +50)

--2015-16:  -21 (20th)...(WSH, +59)
--2014-15  -113 (30th)...(NYR, +60)


--October:  2.50 (21st)...(NYR, 3.89)
--November:  1.95 (30th)...(NYR, 3.67)
--December:  2.14 (28th)...(CBJ, 3.46)

--2015-16:  2.43 (25th)...(DAL, 3.23)
--2014-15:  1.87 (30th)...(TBL, 3.16)


--October:  27.4 (28th)...(TOR, 34.7)
--November:  29.4 (20th)...(PIT, 33.9)
--December:  29.5 (17th)...(PIT, 34.8)

--2015-16:  29.5 (17th)...(PIT, 33.2)
--2014-15:  24.2 (30th)...(CHI, 33.9)


--October:  2.50 (12th)...(MTL, 1.44)
--November:  2.45 (10th)...(SJS. 2.09)
--December:  2.67 (14th)...(MIN, 2.06)

--2015-16:  2.62 (15th)...(ANA, 2.29)
--2014-15:  3.28 (29th)...(MTL, 2.24)

Shots against/Game

--October:  30.6 (20th)...(WSH, 25)
--November:  32.5 (26th)...(LAK, 25.4)
--December:  32.6 (27th)...(LAK, 25.9)

--2015-16:  30.6 (22nd)...(NSH, 27.3)
--2014-15:  35.6 (30th)...(LAK, 27.0)


--October:  25.0 (7th)...(NSH, 35.7)
--November:  22.7 (5th)...(CBJ, 27.8)
--December:  21.6 (9th)...(CBJ, 27.4)

--2015-16:  18.9 (12th)...(ANA, 23.1)
--2014-15:  13.4 (30th)...(WSH, 25.3)

Penalty Kill

--October:  86.7 (7th)...(MIN, 96.2)
--November:  78.7 (25th)...(CAR, 89.7)
--December:  73.9 (30th)...(CAR, 88.8)

--2015-16:  82.6 (9th)...(ANA, 87.2)
--2014-15:  75.1 (30th)...(MIN, 86.3)

Faceoff Percentage

--October:  54.7 (3rd)...(ANA, 59.3)
--November:  51.5 (5th)...(ANA, 56.8)
--December:  51.1 (9th)...(ANA, 56.0)

--2015-16:  49.4 (21st)...(ARI, 54.7)
--2014-15:  44.9 (30th)...(BOS, 53.6)

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