Published by hockeybuzz.com, 8-10-2017
The Sabres had a very difficult 2016-17 season which ultimately lead to the firing of their general manager and head coach. The reasons for Buffalo's difficulties last season are multiple with various factions staking their claim as to why the Sabres finished with less points than the prior season. Was it the personnel? Injuries? Defense?
Here's a look back at the season that was 2016-17 for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Sabres had some injury problems heading into the 2016-17 season. It began with lesser known one as forward Ryan O'Reilly developed back spasms. O'Reilly played for gold medal winning Team Canada in the tournament and during his first preseason game for Buffalo was pulled for "precautionary reasons." Then defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who was acquired earlier in the summer, was checked into an open bench door and smashed his tailbone. It was an injury that would bother him throughout the season.
The injuries continued with big one hitting Jack Eichel on the eve of Buffalo's season opener. On the final day of practice before the Sabres were to face Montreal, Eichel got tangled up with Zemgus Girgensons at practice and suffered a high ankle sprain. Eichel's agony reverberated throughout Sabreland as he would be lost for the first 21 games of the season and any hopes of jumping out of the gate quickly towards possible playoff contention vanished in the screaming echoes of KeyBank Center.
If that wasn't enough, the hits just kept coming on the injury parade as winger Evander Kane went down in the opener vs. the Canadiens. Kane was charging hard into the Montreal zone with only 13 seconds left in the second period when he was checked and lost his balance before crashing hard into the boards and cracking four ribs in the process.
(Thx, All Things Buffalo Sabres)
And for good measure, starting goalie Robin Lehner was sidelined because of an illness. The Sabres had just completed their Western Canada swing and Lehner would miss the next three games.
All-in-all Buffalo didn't fare too badly as they went 3-3-2 for the month and had they not blown a three-goal third period lead at Philadelphia it would have been a notch better. They lost the opener to Montreal and started out by going 1-3-2 through the first six games. However they would turn it around with two very convincing wins at home vs. Florida and at Winnipeg by a combined 6-1 score.
Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson lead the team with four goals apiece with Moulson's all coming on the powerplay and despite the injuries the team got off to a better start then they did the previous season when Buffalo was 2-6 in their first eight games.
For their October team stats, click here and for individual stats click here.