Published by hockeybuzz.com, 10-31-2017
As a 3-7-2 record would indicate, there are a lot of dark areas with the stats, most notably in the plus/minus column and the goalie numbers.
Second-line center Ryan O'Reilly got off to a very rough start as he had zero goals and only two assists through the first six games. In the final six games of the month he hit the scoresheet for three goals and added two more assists. Good for him that he was scoring but when you score all three of your goals on the powerplay and you're playing around 20 minutes per game, lack of 5v5 scoring is going to kill your plus/minus. Which is exactly what happened as O'Reilly had a team worst minus-9 rating for the opening month of the season.
Forward Sam Reinhart had similar problems in that he had a second-worst, minus-8 rating, with his scoring woes bringing that down. Reinhart, who started out as a third line center, was moved to wing and is now back at center, just isn't scoring as he only has four points (2+2) on the season with a goal and an assists coming on the powerplay.
As of late the team has gotten better with the on-ice product in that they're playing a more disciplined game, but they're very inconsistent and it's taken it's toll on both goalies. Starter Robin Lehner has reached respectability with a 2.78 goals-against average and .911 save percentage after a horrendous start. Unfortunately for backup Chad Johnson, he can't say the same. Despite Johnsons being hung out on numerous occasions, a 4.09 GAA and .879 Sv% are unacceptable.
On the bright side, the Sabres are being carried by one line on offense. Jack Eichel centering Evander Kane and Jason Pominville (for the most part) has by far been Buffalo's best, most consistent line and it's not surprising that all three lead the team in points with 12. Kane and Pominville both lead the Sabres with six goals apiece while Eichel leads Buffalo with eight assists.
The interesting part of Eichel's eight assists is that seven of them have been primary assists with the big recipient of those feeds being Pominville (4.) Eichel also fed Kane twice for goals and set up Zemgus Girgensons for his only goal of the season.
Pominville has been quite the surprise for the Sabres. The 34 yr. old winger came over with Marco Scandella from Minnesota with the Wild dubbing him and his $5 million salary as a must if Buffalo wanted Scandella. Most thought Pominville would be somewhat of a necessary evil in obtaining a top-three defenseman but no one thought he's come in and have this much of an impact in the scoring department. He also leads the team in plus/minus with a plus-3.
The biggest problem with the Sabres is secondary scoring. Pominville, Kane Eichel and O'Reilly account for 20 Sabres goals while the rest of the team have scored nine total with only Reinhart, Benoit Pouliot and rookie Justin Bailey lighting the lamp twice. As mentioned, Girgensons has one goal as do Johan Larsson and Seth Griffith.
Buffalo is off until Thursday when they travel to Arizona to take on the Coyotes, who won their first game of the season last night and are in Detroit to finish off a road trip tonight.
According to Paul Hamilton, Housley had these lines and defense pairings at practice today:
Buffalo Sabres 2017-18 Individual Stats leaders:
--October: Pominville, Kane, Eichel, 12; O'Reilly, 8
--October: Pominville, Kane, 6; Eichel, O'Reilly, 4
--October: O'Reilly, 3; Pominville, Kane, Reinhart, 1
--October: Eichel, 8 Pominville, Kane, 6
--October: Kane, Ristolainen, 2; six players with 1
--October: Eichel, 7; O'Reilly, Ristolainen, 4; Kane, Beaulieu, 2
--October: Pominville, +3; Girgensons, Gorges, +1; Pouliot, even
--October: O'Reilly, -9; Reinhart, -8; Okposo, -7
--October: 4-2-1; 2.78 GAA; .911 Sv%; 1 shutout
--October: 1-3-1; 4.06 GAA; .879 Sv%; 0 shutout