Hockey coaches and players often talk about putting together a "complete game" or "a full 60 minutes". The Buffalo Sabres aren't too bad for 40 minutes most nights, but right now those middle 20 are absolutely killing them.
Friday night against Boston, the Buffalo Sabres were lustily booed off the ice by their own fans after a disheartening second period performance that saw them get outshot 16-7. Getting booed while headed to the locker room after two periods has become a habit for this Buffalo team, and it's a habit they need to break soon if they want to turn things around.
How bad has the second period been for the blue and gold? Almost half of the Sabres goals against this season have come in the second period, 25 out of 54. They lead the NHL in goals against in the second period by a healthy margin, and they're currently being outscored in the middle stanza 25-14. Their -11 goal differential in the second is the worst differential for any team in any period, save the NY Islanders and the third.
The Sabres showed some promise yesterday, playing a very solid second period against Pittsburgh that tied up a game that at one point looked to be a blowout loss. However, in almost every other loss this season, they've come out sleepwalking in the second period, and it's constantly put them in holes hat they have to claw out of.
They've been trying to claw their way out, and the Sabres currently have the second most goal for in the third period, with 20. The problem is they've still given up 16, so there's not much of an advantage there.
If the Sabres can put together a full 60 minutes, and play much more consistent hockey in the second period, they'll have a chance to make some noise in the crowded Eastern Conference.