We are already two games into the month of January, but it's time to take a look back at the month of December. Much was made about the Sabres difficult December schedule with 15 games in 29 days with two off days being Christmas. The Sabres passed the December test with flying colors. They finished the month with a 9-4-2 record for a total of 20 points.
With the season now at its halfway point, the Sabres find themselves in second place in the Eastern Conference. Some readers on the site have compared this season to the 2005-2006 season and I am quickly becoming a believer. Ironically enough they had 54 points after 40 games in 2005-2006 and they had 54 points after 40 games this season.
|Games||Record||Points Earned||+/- points||Total Points||Games||Record||Points Earned||+/- points||Total Points|
December Goal Scoring
Goal scoring was down considerably for the Sabres in December. The Sabres scored just over two goals per game while at even strength and the power play hit new lows last month. The strength of this team has been defense and goalie play and that was never more evident than the month of December. As bad as the power play was, the penalty killing was that good. They allowed only seven power play goals against and one was scored on a 5-on-3.
The Sabres have been a good team at home this season as opposed to the past couple of seasons when they struggled at HSBC Arena. They are 14-5-4 on home ice and the December numbers show their goal scoring was better at home than it was on the road.
|PP Goals Against||1||6|
|SH Goals Against||0||0|
|#||Player||Pos||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM||PPG||SHG||Corsi||Corsi/Game||Corsi +/- Last Month|
- December was a turning point for the Sabres. They rebounded from a sub-par November and recaptured some of the momentum they had during October. The highlight of the month was back-to-back wins against the Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks.
- The emergence of Patrick Lalime. "The Lime" had struggled mightily in the first two months of the season but after a two game conditioning stint in Portland, he was a new man. He played in only three games but had a 2-0-1 record and had a better goals against and save percentage than Miller had.
- Jason Pominville starting to find the net. His five goals in the month of December led the team and he tied Derek Roy with 11 points in the month.
- Toni Lydman is often one of the most overlooked players on the Sabres blueline. It is hard to overlook his performance in December. He scored a goal, added three assists and led the team with a plus-7 rating.
- Penalty killing excelled at both ends of the rink. They continued to be stingy in the defensive zone but shorthanded goals became part of the arsenal. Patrick Kaleta led the way with shorties in back-to-back games to give him two of the three Sabres shorthanded goals.
- The power play is the biggest disappointment for the Sabres this season. We talk about the anemic offense and it is a direct result of the anemic power play. The Sabres have no creativity with the man advantage. The strategy is to shoot from the point but the Sabres point guys struggle to get their shots through. At some point the coaching staff is going to have to draw up a new plan or they have to change the players. The current strategy just does not work.
- Chris Butler continues to struggle. He played in only three games and was a minus-3, the lowest on the team. Butler replaced Andrej Sekera in the lineup when he returned from injury but so far he has underperformed. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sekera replace Butler in the lineup in the very near future.
Player of the Month
December is the first month that Ryan Miller will not be given player of the month. We praised the Sabres for bringing Mike Grier back in the off-season, this month he reminded us why we liked him so much. Grier had a tough month off the ice but it has not affected his play on the ice.