Sabres Offensive Struggles Start at the Top

Anyone who has watched the Buffalo Sabres play this season realizes the offense is struggling to score goals. Finding the back of the net has become more and more difficult as each season passes.The Sabres had scored over or near three goals a game every season since the lockout and this season they are averaging just 2.67 goals per game.

Year Goals Per Game
2005 - 2006 3.37
2006 - 2007 3.63
2007 - 2008 3.06
2008 - 2009 2.95
2009 - 2010 2.67

 

The Sabres came out of the lockout as a team built with speed in offense. There system worked well when the referees were calling every penalty they could find. It opened up more ice for the skilled players and the Sabres had plenty of forwards that took advantage of the extra room they were given.

As we have moved further away from the lockout the standard for penalties has dropped considerably league wide. After the loss of Danny Briere and Chris Drury, via free agency, the Sabres have adapted a much more defensive style of play.

As fans we are quick to blame the players for the lack of offense but almost every player on the team has seen a decline in their offensive statistics. At some point we have to acknowledge "the system". We have heard so much about the system over the past three seasons that it is part of our vocabulary when talking about the Sabres.

The Sabres missed the playoffs for two consecutive seasons and the post game comments from Jason Pominville and Ryan Miller read like a broken record. After every game we would hear "We didn't play the system", or "We have to do a better job playing the system" or any other variation of not playing the system. We don't hear those quotes quite as often this season and the Sabres are in first place.

Coincidence? I don't think so.

I think the Lindy Ruff system works to win hockey games but it is not always the most entertaining game for fans to watch. We all want to see the Sabres win a Stanley Cup and the players do to, that is why they finally buying into what the coach is selling. This system is not designed for individuals to break records, it is built for the team to win hockey games, and for most of the season they have.

After the jump I have listed the Sabres top forwards career stats to gie you a sense of the drop off in offensive production. Tim Connoly is the only player on the team that is averaging near his potential this season. Some players are worse than others but overall you get a sense of where this team is offensively.


Derek Roy G A P PPG NHL -82
2005 - 2006   18 28 46 .657 54
2006 - 2007 21 42 63 .840 69
2007 - 2008 32 49 81 1.04 85
2008 - 2009 28 42 70 .854 70
2009 - 2010 17 29 46 .742 61


Thomas Vanek G A P PPG NHL -82
2005 - 2006   25 23 48 .593 49
2006 - 2007 43 41 84 1.02 84
2007 - 2008 36 28 64 .780 64
2008 - 2009 40 24 64 .877 72
2009 - 2010 19 22 41 .695 57


Jason Pominville G A P PPG NHL -82
2005 - 2006   18 12 30 .526 43
2006 - 2007 34 34 68 .780 64
2007 - 2008 27 53 80 .976 80
2008 - 2009 20 46 66 .805 66
2009 - 2010 16 27 43 .694 57


Tim Connolly G A P PPG NHL -82
2001 - 2002   10 35 45 .549 45
2002 - 2003 12 13 25 .305 25
2005 - 2006 16 39 55 .873 72
2007 - 2008 7 33 40 .833 68
2008 - 2009 18 29 47 .979 80
2009 - 2010 15 42 57 .890 73


Drew Stafford G A P PPG NHL -82
2006 - 2007   13 14 27 .658 54
2007 - 2008 16 22 38 .593 49
2008 - 2009 20 25 45 .569 47
2009 - 2010 13 15 28 .475 39


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