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On the first day of Christmas..

Twelve wishes for the Buffalo Sabres this holiday

Ottawa Senators v Buffalo Sabres
Yet another shootout loss
Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

You’ve all heard "The Twelve Days of Christmas", an English Christmas carol that’s been around for a couple of centuries now. Here’s the late John Denver and the Muppets in this evergreen version -

Leading up to Christmas Day 2016, here’s the first of twelve wishes for the Buffalo Sabres for the rest of this season.

1. Better performance in shootouts

The Sabres are really bad at shootouts, even more so than before this season. As of yesterday, they have been in four shootouts and won just once. Their conversion rate is 3 of 11 (27.3%), which is 17th in the League. However, it’s the saves where they are truly bad with just 4 saves on 10 shots (40%), which puts them at 28th in the League.

Here’s a table illustrating their recent records -

Buffalo Sabres shootout records
Buffalo Sabres shootout records

Neither playoff games nor the Stanley Cup Finals are settled by shootouts, so we’re not necessarily advocating zeroing in on players and goalies who are good at the shootout. However, in a league where the margins are pretty fine in making it to the playoffs, leaving a half dozen points on the ice could come into play late in the regular season as the teams are jockeying for position.

Since Dan Bylsma came on board in the summer of 2015, the shootout records seem to have fallen precipitously, which leads to believe that shootouts are probably not a regular part of the practices.

You would think that it won’t take too much out of the players and coaches to spend a few minutes every session working on the shootout, but here’s hoping that this is identified and rectified before it comes back to haunt us.

PS - I’ve changed the order of the posts; my super-smart wife kindly pointed out to me that I was actually counting the days down opposite to what the song suggests, duh!