Thursday, January 31, 2019

Can Buffalo replicate in Dallas what they did in Columbus?

Published by, 1-30-2019

Sure, the Buffalo Sabres had a rough patch last night in Columbus where the Blue Jackets tied the score on two goals with just over three minutes left in the second period. It certainly was a rough patch and something we've seen with regularity all season. Sometimes you have to give the other team credit for sensing apprehension and jumping all over the opportunities they present. The NHL is a league with plenty of parity and when two similar teams meet, like Buffalo and Columbus, breakdowns are going to happen.

However, what matters most is how a team rebounds from that and the Sabres did just that. Just 2:12 into the third period Connor Sheary pounce on a rebound in the crease to put Buffalo up 5-4 and they held the fort the rest of the way. Once again, there were some tense moments, especially when the Jackets pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, but these are the moments where Buffalo's goaltending needs to shine and Carter Hutton did that for the Sabres. Columbus sent shots his way, none got by, and the Sabres headed to Dallas last night with a win pocket and some wind in their sails.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Back on the ice at Columbus

The Sabres come off of their long, 10-day break between games with a back-to-back beginning tonight at Columbus against the Blue Jackets. After tonight it's off to Dallas, TX for a bout against the Stars tomorrow night. All three teams will be in their first action since the All-Star break. While Buffalo and Columbus will be shaking off the cobwebs tonight, the Stars will need to do that tomorrow night against a Sabres team that should be close to game-speed.

As for tonight, this game may help set the tone for Buffalo's final 34 games as the Sabres are facing off against a Columbus team that is five points ahead of them in the standings. Although the Blue Jackets are presently third in the Metropolitan Division, the top four teams in that division are only separated by a total of five points and any one of them could drop out of the top-three and into the wild card spot during the stretch run.

Which is where the Pittsburgh Penguins find themselves at this point.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

"Holy flashbacks, Bettman!" this bad trip keeps recurring

Published by, 1-27-2019

First off, I'm not Canadian and the sanctity of hockey as well it's birthplace, however real or imagined, is not woven into the very fabric of my being from birth. I like hockey, a lot, and as a kid before our almost daily street hockey games we'd start out with sticks high singing the Canadian national anthem. However you won't find me praying on a Sabres hockey rug in the direction of the "Centre of the Hockey Universe" while clutching a copy of Ken Dryden's, The Game. Hockey is an awesome sport that I've followed since I was a kid and I've generally enjoyed the tremendous advances they've made in nearly every aspect of the game.

Yet, I hold these truths to be self-evident, that after decades of trying to make serious in-roads into the American sports fan's consciousness, hockey remains a very Canadian, very regional sport for the most part.

The NHL has done well to slowly build a rock-solid fan-base, which is admirable, and for years, especially the past 25 years under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, the league has been trying for a bigger footprint on the American sports scene. Mainly he's tried to do it through expansion into non-traditional hockey markets as well as making for a faster, more exciting product through various rule changes, most notably the recent elimination of the red line. And every once and while Bettman would throw some gimmicks into the mix, like the infamous "glowing puck" of the mid-latter 1990's.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. NHL and NHLPA have a pretty good thing going

Published by, 1-26-2019

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is vociferously booed nearly every time he takes the podium in front of the general hockey public. Perhaps it's a little more tradition now than it was just after the 2004-05 NHL lockout, the first time in the history of pro sports a major league lost an entire season due to labor strife. On behalf of the owners, Bettman locked out the players for 310 days in an effort at "cost-certainty," otherwise known as a salary cap, and when all was said and done the owners prevailed and the owners got their way, the players saw a 24% rollback in salary and the fans were left to simmer in rancor for the entire length of the lockout.

There are a myriad of other reasons that fans have a strong distaste for Bettman. Canadian fans in particular saw him bastardizing their hockey roots by moving franchises (Winnipeg and Quebec) out of "the Birthplace of Hockey" and into U.S. markets and they showed particular displeasure as Bettman focused upon "non-traditional cities" for relocation and expansion. Phoenix, Florida, Atlanta (for the second time,) Nashville and Dallas (where the former Minnesota North Stars moved) were not places that invoked childhood memories of skating on frozen rinks for a game of shinny in the cold of winter.

Some didn't like his demeanor (seen as aloof) and some didn't like his height (or the Napoleonic aura he seemed to project) or that he opted to move on from ESPN post-lockout to "a television leader in action and adventure sports" known OLN, or the Outdoor Life Network for national games (OLN would become Versus and eventually NBC Sports Network.) In fact anything that a fan disliked about the game could be traced back (in their minds) to Bettman.

However, most of the vitriol sent Bettman's way was tied to work stoppages, three of which he presided over.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sabres at the All-Star break--where they are and where they might be headed

Published by, 1-24-2019

At 54 points on the season, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves in the playoff mix and to those who didn't get caught up in the 10-game winning streak or lose their minds as the Sabres went 7-12-4 post streak, this is pretty much where many thought they might be. It's not some Pollyanna Phil-like reach for positivity to point out that the team is by far better than they were last season, and better than the they were in 2016-17 at this point in the season. Consider:

--Last season they finished with 62 points and so far this year the Sabres have 54 on a 24-18-6 record. At this point in the '16-'17 season,  Buffalo had 49 points on a 20-19-9 record.
--With 32 games remaining, their 24 wins is one away from last season and nine away from the year before when they had 33 and finished with 78 points. The pace the Sabres are on right now is that of a 41-win season and 92 total points.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

How far have the Sabres progressed 48 games in?

Published by, 1-21-2019

Let's get this right out of the way. In 2017-18, the Buffalo Sabres finished dead last in the league becoming the first team to have 31st next to it's name in the standings. The 62 points Buffalo managed was five less than the 30th place Ottawa Senators while their minus-81 goal differential was 11 worse then the Sens.  

Although they had some talent, last season was a disaster for the Sabres but with a little luck in the draft lottery it yielded phenom defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who was said to be the most highly touted d-prospect in decades. The offseason saw a multitude of changes, including the trade of No. 2 center Ryan O'Reilly and the complete overhaul of a goaltending duo that was near the bottom of the league. 

The problems Buffalo faced this off season were many, as were the changes and heading into the season and we knew they'd be better  overall but weren't sure by how much. In our 2018-19 Sabres preview here we came up with a wide ranging point prediction (from low 70's to low 90's) but figured that they'd be in the upper portion of that range (around 84) with the possibility of moving into the high end and maybe more should the large numbers of "if ______ can do this" scenarios came to fruition.

There were quite a few of those and with the Sabres on a pace to be in that upper portion of that point-range it's time to see how those "if _____ can's" affected the season thus far.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sabres recap

The Sabres just finished a three-game western Canada road swing that pretty much turned the Corsi-loving faction of the analytics community on it's head. In Buffalo's 4-3 OT win at Calgary, they were outshot 33-23 and sent only 37 shots the Flames' way while seeing 61 shots attempts at them. Their two losses were just the opposite.

The Sabres got smoked in Edmonton 7-2 to kick off the road trip but were sending all kinds of rubber the Oilers way. Buffalo peppered Edmonton's goalie with 43 shots on goal and sent a total of 72 shots their way while the Oilers managed only 23 shots on goal and 37 total shots. In the Sabres final game of the trip in Vancouver, a 4-3 loss, they had 70 total shots and 39 on goal while the Canucks had 40 total shots and only 23 on goal.

And so it goes.

The only number that really matter revolve around the final score and the Sabres came out on the losing end twice. Props to them for a gutty effort in Calgary where they pulled out a win after getting embarrassed in Edmonton and they should also take heart in knowing that they played a strong game in Vancouver but were victims of their own mistakes. 


Another number that is important right now is 54 and that's the number of points the Sabres have accumulated this season with 34 games to play.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Gamenight, Vancouver. Then a long break

Published by, 1-18-2019

It's too bad the Sabres went into the slump they did following their winning streak. After being atop the league Buffalo fell rung-by-rung down the ladder and eventually out of a playoff spot. At 24-17-6 on the year the Sabres sit fifth in the Atlantic division with 54 points, are two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second Eastern conference wild card spot and three points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the first wild card spot. With Buffalo having played one more game than the Pens and one less game than the Habs, even a win tonight coupled with losses by both those clubs would not change their position.

A win tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks, however, would keep the Sabres within striking distance of both those clubs as well as the Boston Bruins who are third in the division with 59 points. Buffalo has a game in hand on Boston which will be made up tonight.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Beaulexit? Sabres d-man is said to want more playing time in Buffalo

Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu is said to be wanting out of Buffalo. Reports surfaced last night that the 26 yr. old Strathroy, Ontario native asked to be traded but according to TSN, Beaulieu's agent Kent Hughes said that there wasn't a trade-demand.

"He's not happy with Buffalo," Hughes was quoted as saying about Beaulieu, "he's looking for more of an opportunity to play.

The 2011 first round pick (17th-overall, MTL) has played in 26 of the Sabres 47 games to date scoring three goals and adding four assists to go along with an even plus/minus rating. Beaulieu hadn't played at all in the 2019 portion of the schedule until he hit the ice in Edmonton against the Oilers. The Sabres got shellacked 7-2 in that game and the 6'2" 200 lb. left-handed defenseman had a rough game, just like every other Sabres player not named Rasmus Dahlin, finishing with zero points and a minus-2 rating in 16:43 of ice-time. Buffalo coach Phil Housley replaced Beaulieu with rookie Lawrence Pilut for last night's win over the Calgary Flames.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Flames are hot, Swords are cold. Plus, moving on from Monday' 7-2 loss.

Published, 1-16-2019

I'm not sure what this Buffalo Sabres team was thinking the other night in Edmonton. Perhaps they thought they were the much better team and after scoring exactly one minute into the game, the Oilers would roll over against a "superior" Sabres team?

Hmmmmm. Seems like that's happened before.

Flashback to December 8 when Buffalo was hosting the Philadelphia Flyers, a team they had steamrolled 5-2 the prior month. The Sabres were coming off what might have been their best game of the season in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and were still feeling pretty confident as they were only four losses removed (0-2-2) from their recent 10-game winning streak. Buffalo would carry that confidence and momentum into the Flyers game as Jack Eichel scored two goals in the first 12:02 of the game. It would be a cake-walk, right?

Not so fast there, hombre. Philadelphia scored just :50 seconds after Eichel's second goal to cut the lead to 2-1 and tied it in the second period before unloading four goals on the Sabres in the third for the 6-2 win. Buffalo's 10-game winning streak was officially in the rear-view mirror and it would get worse as their present five-game winless streak would turn into a 6-11-4 post-streak slump.

The Sabres have now lost three in a row, eight of their last 12 and find themselves four points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern conference after once being at the top of the league.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sabres in western Canada for a three-game road-trip, plus McEichel and CJ Smith

Published by, 1-14-2019

A lot of times when a team is in a funk the overriding theme on a far-reaching road trip like this is that it will be a good bonding experience. Without any local distractions, it's just the team and their opponents and a lot of time to focus solely on the task at hand.

Buffalo begins a three-game, western Canada swing tonight with a visit to Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta to take on the Oilers. After that it's a stop in Calgary to face the Flames before they head to the Pacific coast to take on the Vancouver Canucks which will ultimately take them 2,700 miles from home and hopefully even further away from the struggles they've endured lately.

The Sabres have been brilliant versus the Pacific Division this season going 9-2-1 and haven't lost in regulation since the Anaheim Ducks walloped them 5-1 on October 18. For those following, it was after that game that Buffalo bench boss Phil Housley mixed up his forward lines. He moved Jeff Skinner back to Jack Eichel's left wing, which was where he started the season, and moved 35 yr. old Jason Pominville to that duo's right. Kyle Okposo remained on rookie Casey Mittelstadt's right wing while fourth-line center Evan Rodrigues was moved to up to the left on that line. The bottom-six featured Conor Sheary/Vladimir Sobotka/Sam Reinhart along with Zemgus Girgensons/Johan Larsson/Patrick Berglund.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Whose line is it anyway?

Published by, 1-12-2019

Maybe we should have sensed that it was going to be a tough night for Buffalo when Carolina's first goal came courtesy of a puck that went off of goalie Carter Hutton hit the top of the net and bounce towards the crease before an attempt at whacking it out of the way went array. Defenseman Marco Scandella's attempt at redirecting the puck mid-air backfired and it went into the net to put the Hurricane's up 1-0. A total of three Carolina goals were the result of pucks deflecting off of Sabres while Buffalo had one themselves.

However, such is hockey. Carolina played a game deserved of a win but so did Buffalo and in the end, the Sabres losing streak vs. the 'Canes is now at seven games (0-6-1.)

The good news for Buffalo is that Jack Eichel was back in the lineup last night after missing three full games because of an upper-body injury. Although he showed some signs of rust, he wasn't too far removed from the Eichel that leads the team in scoring. Another plus was that left wing Jeff Skinner returned to Carolina for his first game in a visitors uniform and scored Buffalo's first goal of the game, which was pretty cool for everyone.

The bad news is that Sabres coach Phil Housley still can't seem to get his line combos straightened out. The second year coach decided to spread the wealth a bit moving Tage Thompson up to the top line and moving the team's third leading scorer, Sam Reinhart, to the second line. For as well as Thompson has played lately, especially in Eichel's absence, last night he didn't look very good as he managed only one shot on goal and was a minus-3 in 12:44 of even-strength ice-time. Housley dropped Thompson after Carolina's fourth goal at the 12:27 mark and the team down by two. 

Jason Pominville, who had played extremely well while also scoring his first goal in 18 games while also ending a 16-game point-drought, moved up briefly to join Eichel and Skinner on the top line before Housley moved Reinhart in to that spot. And for the third period Housley put his lines in a blender, sans the Eichel line.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

That's a fact Jack, Eichel is back. Plus, the "rockstar" (and All-Star) returns home

Published by, 1-11-2019

Buffalo captain Jack Eichel looks to be back in the lineup as word from the rink in Carolina has him taking line-rushes with the team. Eichel was out with an upperbody injury suffered prior to their December 31 game vs. the NY Islanders. The Sabres leading scorer took the ice against the Islanders but only played a couple of minutes before leaving the game. Eichel missed three games full games and his team went 2-1-0 in his absence.

The cool part about Eichel being out and not having it be a total disaster is that we found out who on the team was ready to step up in his absence and one of those players earned a look on Eichel's line for tonight's game against the Hurricanes.

Tage Thompson started out the season slow and was a healthy scratch but received individual attention from the coaching staff and took it all in. Since getting back into the lineup he's slowly ramped up his game and was consistently one of the best Buffalo Sabres on the ice in Eichel's absence. Head coach Phil Housley ended up moving Thompson to right wing in a top-six role and the 6'6" 205 lb. winger responded with 11 shots, a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating.

Thompson will join the Sabres leading scorer in Eichel (49 points) and their leading goal-scorer in Jeff Skinner.

Friday, January 11, 2019

C.J. Smith and Lawrence Pilut break through in Sabres win, plus other notes.

Published by, 1-9-2019

Congratulations to rookies C.J. Smith and Lawrence Pilut on breaking through with their first NHL goals last night. Smith squeaked one past New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid early in the second period to break a 1-1 tie while Pilut sent a seeing-eye wrister into the New Jersey net to finish off the scoring in Buffalo's 5-1 win.

Smith was denied on a golden opportunity early in the game as Kinkaid got his left pad down on a shot by Smith from just a few feet out before the Sabres forward dinked the rebound off the post from a very sharp angle with a wide open net. In the second period, however, Smith jumped on a turnover at the Devils blueline, wheeled to Kinkaid's left and sent a quick snap-shot that went between the goalie's body and blocker and dribbled towards the goal line. The puck seemingly crossed the line before New Jersey d-man Sami Vatanen fished it out, but the play went to a review where it was confirmed.


The only player on the ice who was sure it was in was Smith, who had circled behind the net after taking the shot. "I saw it was in," said a beaming Smith to the gathered media post-game. "Nobody else knew it was in so I  kinda celebrated by myself."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Jack Eichel remains out for his third straight game as BUF hosts NJD

Hang in there Sabres fans, although captain Jack Eichel is out tonight for his third straight game, he did practice with the team and was on the ice for the morning skate today. Fans should be cool with that. Why rush things and have it backfire keeping him out even longer?

The struggles Buffalo had without him in Boston on Saturday were well documented and I'm sure everyone in Sabreland is ready to move on from that. The good news is that despite Buffalo falling out of third place in the Atlantic division, they're still sitting in the second wild card place with 50 points, although that hold is rather tenuous right now as the Montreal Canadiens are only one point behind them.

The thought process on Eichel at this point in time should be to make sure he's ready for the stretch run because the Sabres are going to need him. Sure, Buffalo's 5-8-4 stumble from atop the league to their present position is cause for concern, but even if they lose tonight they'll still be in that second wild card spot.

And speaking of tonight's matchup against the New Jersey Devils, it ain't gonna be a cake walk even though they've struggled this season (16-18-7) after rolling into the playoffs last season as the second wild card with 97 points. The Sabres are only 2-7-1 vs. the Devils in their last 10 and have a sub .500, 4-5-1 record at home. In fact they haven't beaten New Jersey at home since April 1, 2014.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Even with Jack Eichel back in the lineup, Housley needs to revamp lines

Published by, 1-7-2019

Is there better evidence as to just how much Jack Eichel means to the Sabres than the Boston game on Saturday night. Buffalo was in trouble early in the game and struggled through the first period before the Bruins steamrolled them through most of the second period. Although the B's only had a 2-0 lead, they spent much of the third period playing the game in preseason-mode as opposed to the playoff-like fury they unleashed on the Sabres the prior two periods. Were it not for goaltender Linus Ullmark, this game would have been a laugher.

Eichel was signed to an 8yr./$80 million contract extension in October, 2017 despite not playing to his superstar potential on a regular basis. On many occasions we'd seen his remarkable skating, stickwork and scoring ability fueled by a deep desire to win, but in comparison to the other young superstars in and around his class, we hadn't seen it from Eichel for a full season. Had he not come out and dominated the way he has this year, the injuries and team dysfunction he dealt with his first three seasons would have added up to nothing more than empty excuses. What we've seen this year is full on-Eichel as he roared to a 100-point pace on a team that looked destined for it's first playoff appearance in seven seasons.

Then an injury hit which sidelined him for two games.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Life w/o Jack Eichel can be pretty ugly but the prospect pool is filling up

Last night's 2-1 loss in Boston was much uglier than the final score would indicate and there's just no way of getting around it. The Bruins came out hard and determined on the puck and the deer-in-headlights Sabres had no answer. When they wanted to play, Boston controlled every facet of the game and at one point in a completely one-sided second period, the Bruins outshot the Sabres 14-3 and spent most of the first 15 minutes inside Buffalo's zone.

This Sabres team didn't know what to do last night and it showed just how bad they could be without their leader, Jack Eichel, while also showing just how much weight he was carrying.

Buffalo went into Boston tied with the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic division, but on the outside looking in because of having less regulation/overtime wins. The game represented a four-point swing to the winner and the Sabres looked frightened. They were flat-footed and slow to the, showed no energy and even less puck-support, cheated up ice and generally looked like some of the worst this franchise had to offer over the last five seasons. 

Their top line was ineffective save for Jeff Skinner who worked hard to create multiple chances for himself but couldn't put one past Boston goalie Tuuka Rask, and we also found out that Evan Rodrigues should be no where near a top-line center role. Those who came to play up-front in Eichel's absence included Johan Larsson and...props should go out to Tage Thompson for his stickwork and stick-to-itiveness and to C.J. Smith who, along with Larsson, carried the weight of Buffalo's best line last night. 

As for the rest? You can have 'em.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Plenty of hockey to watch in Sabreland: USA vs. FIN; Buffalo @ Boston

Published by, 1-5-2019

If you're Buffalo GM Jason Botterill it's hard not to think there are some good things happening in the Sabres organization. Botterill took over as general manager in 2017 after leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins organization with their team deep into the playoffs on their Stanley Cup run. The rookie GM had a lot on his plate which included the upcoming Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, the NHL Draft and the start of free agency. All of that would take place in a time-frame of less than two weeks.

In less than two years Botterill transitioned his Sabres team away from the previous GM and managed to calm a locker room, create cap-space and get that team moving towards a more modern version of the way the NHL game is played today. After a last place finish in 2017-18 his NHL team is presently in a playoff spot and has a very bright future ahead.

Botterill also placed a supreme focus last season on picking his AHL affiliate up off the mat. The collateral damage the Rochester Americans felt as the Sabres tanked and tried to rebuild was widespread and deep leaving the Amerks bereft of any semblance of quality talent with finishes near the bottom of the league for  three consecutive seasons prior to Botterill coming aboard. Last season they made the playoffs and this year they spent most of the season at the top of their division.

Things were so bad in the organization that the Buffalo's ECHL affiliate, the Elmira Jackals, struggled near the bottom of the league for those three seasons and eventually ceased operations in 2017.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Sabres at the half-way point after a gutsy win over FLA

Published by, 1-4-2018

If one had said at the beginning of the 2018-19 season that Buffalo would be tied for third place in the Atlantic division at the half-way point, most in Sabreland would have felt pretty good about that. After coming off another last place season in 2017-18, predictions for the club generally fell in the 80-90 point range with the team possibly battling for a playoff spot into March and it looks as if those prediction could come true.

The Sabres have 50 points on the season thus far, are on pace for 100 points and have shown that a finish in the upper area (and beyond) of those preseason predictions is very possible. Throughout their 22-13-6 record to date this club has shown resiliency and the capacity to keep games close. Most of the time they'd come on top of the tight ones, and other times they'd fall short as indicated by their 12-3-6 record in one-goal games with those six overtime losses (and the loser point involved) keeping them in the thick of things. And, as one would expect from a team three games above the real .500 mark with a goal-differential of +1, they have an even 10-10 record in games decided by two or more goals. 

It wasn't hard to get caught up in the euphoria of their 10-game winning streak back in November, nor was it all that surprising that expectations came back down to earth as the high of that run was lost in the ensuing 4-7-4 record that brought the 2018 portion of the season to a close. As usual, there's an uproar in situations like that with calls for changes (sometimes drastic) from the fan base, but Sabres management took it all in stride. Coach Phil Housley was at the podium after practice on Wednesday touting the play of his team despite not getting the results. "I know overall the last 15 games, our record isn't where it needs to be," he said to the gathered media. "But I think if you look at it in a shorter sample size, the last five games, I really liked the way we played. There were a lot of things to like. We're not getting the results, that's the next step."

Friday, January 4, 2019

Life without Jack Eichel, for at least two games. Curse or blessing?

Published by, 1-3-2019

Reports from the rink this morning quoted Phil Housley saying that Sabres captain Jack Eichel will miss tonight's game against the Florida Panthers and Saturday night's game at Boston. Eichel aggravated an upper-body injury in Monday's loss to the NY Islanders skating just under 3 minutes before leaving. Speculation on Twitter was that Eichel was having back problems, from carrying 20 other teammates.

Eichel has been the man this year. After taking over the mantel of the captaincy, the 22 yr. old been playing the best, most consistent hockey of his career and leads Buffalo in points (49) and assists (34) would have him close to100 points, a mark that hasn't been hit since Pat LaFontaine (148) and Alexander Mogilny (127) did so in 1992-93. Eichel's 20181-9 point total ranks him 15th in the league while his assists rank him tied for ninth.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Buffalo Sabres 2018-19 Individual Stats Leaders--December

Published by, 1-2-2019

If you want to see the main reason why the Buffalo Sabres only managed a 4-6-3 record in December take a look at who has scored the third-most goals on the team for the month--checking center Johan Larsson with three goals. The Sabres scored 29 goals in 13 games last month, or only 2.23 goals/game, with Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner scoring over half of them (16.) Only two players other than Larsson had a multi-goal month as Rasmus Dahlin and Sam Reinhart had two each. 

Kinda makes it difficult to do some winning with numbers like that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Buffalo Sabres 2018-19 Team Stats--December

Published by, 1-1-2019

A lackluster month of December for Buffalo can basically be summed up by team stats from two categories. Entering the month the Sabres were tied for 14th in the league averaging 3.04 goals/game and their goals-against came in at 2.81, which was tied for 11th. Through December, Buffalo's goals/game dropped to 2.80 (22nd) while their goals-against came in at 2.85 (11th.)

The Sabres went 4-6-3 for the month and dropped from their spot amongst the leaders of the conference (and the NHL) down into the playoff mix. With 48 points they now only have a tenuous hold on third place in the division with three conference wild card teams no more than three points behind them nipping at their heels. In their six regulation losses Buffalo was outscored 22-8 while in their four wins they outscored their opponents 14-6 margin. Add in the three overtime/shootout losses and their minus-9 goal differential for the month puts them at zero on the season which pretty much matches their 21-13-6 overall record this season.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Sabres face surging NY Islanders; recall winger C.J. Smith from Rochester

It was just over a month ago that the Sabres were riding a 10-game winning streak while the rest of the Eastern conference was murky. The bid dogs like Tampa Bay, Washington and Toronto took their usual places up high in the conference with Buffalo being the surprise team sitting atop the entire league. Over in the Metropolitan division, the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals were atop the division but only six points separated them and the sixth place Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fast forward to today and we find that the conference is beginning to shape up like most had predicted. The Lightning caught fire and are comfortably atop the Atlantic division followed by the Maple Leafs with the Sabres clinging to third place. Over in the Metro, Washington has a firm grip in the division with the Columbus Blue Jackets making some noise and, to really no one's surprise, the Penguins have worked their way up into the top three.

Close behind the Penguins, however, are the NY Islanders a team that's been on a tear lately. The Isles have been hanging around the middle of the division for some time while things worked themselves out and their recent of six wins in seven games has them right behind the Penguins just two points behind with one game in hand. The Islanders have 44 points on the season and sit just one point out of the second wild card spot behind the Montreal Canadiens. When Buffalo was atop the League, the Islanders were 10 points behind the Sabres where now that margin, thanks to Buffalo's 4-6-4 record since then, is down to four points.