As we get ready to watch the Buffalo Bills take on the New ork Jets I thought it would be fun to take a look at some Buffalo Sabres statistics. Most of the stats came as no surprise to me but others were a hug surprise.
I have been telling you about the Sabres 5-on-5 play but now you can see it first hand. They are a plus one while playing at even strength and really rely on the power play. If not for a plus four on Saturday night the Sabres would be a minus team while playing even strength. This is an area that the Sabres will need to improve if they plan on being a contyender in April.
The Sabres special teams have been impressive at a plus 13 on the power play and only a minus three shorthanded. You half expect that the power play will do well but a minus three on the penalty kill after 11 games is impressive. Ryan Miller has been the biggest reason for the solid penalty kill but he has received some help from his teammates.
There are some other interesting statistics that can be found at NHL.com. Let's give the NHL some credit for what they have done to improve the website. Anyway, on to the stats...
Craig Rivet has missed a couple of games and he adds some toughness to the team but it's apparent that the Sabres are still as soft as they have been in years past. Is hitting the opponent that important in the NHL anymore? At times I think it is but I don't think it's important to be a team that hist a lot to win hockey games.
Fourth in the league in Giveaways! That needs to change if this team is going to be good. They have received good goaltending most of the time this season but we seen what happens when they don't get good goaltending. It's not fair to force Ryan Miller and Patrick Lalime to be the best players on the team every single night (admittedly that does help the chances of winning). I think we could probably single out a few players in this category (Derek Roy, Max Afinogenov).
Being 10th in the league in both takeaways and blocked shots is an encouraging sign for this team. It has been noticeable in all the teams victories that players were willing to pay the price and get in front of shots.
Home sweet Home
This hasn't been reality for the Sabres this season, a trend I'm guessing they would like to correct. It's amazing looking at the difference in statistics from home to away. The team is 7-2-2 at this point and they are 4-2-0 at home and 3-0-2 on the road.
|PP Goals Against||4||1|
|SH Goals Against||0||0|
Is that right? A plus two at home but a plus nine on the road. It is correct and it's not because they have played tougher opponents at home than on the road. Take a look at the other miscellaneuos statistics based on home and away.
I have no explanation for the reason why they take the puck away more on the road but as for the giveaways...was Jason Pominville right? He took plenty of criticism for his comments about the team being "too cute" at home, but maybe we should be listening to him. He may be exactly right about what happens to this team on home ice.
Take what you will from the stats above but it seems clear to me that the team makes more mistakes at home. Everyone is obviously pleased with how good this team has been on the road but they have to get better at home. Saturday night was a huge improvement but there still needs to be some consistency.