The NHL season is a long grind of 82 games. Most teams break down the schedule into three, five or even ten-game segments to narrow their focus on the upcoming games. Sabres head coach Phil Housley has spoken about breaking the season down into five-game increments for his club. So, here at Die By The Blade, we’ll do the same and recap the team in five-game windows this season.
Recent Five-Game Stretch
Over the previous five games, the Sabres went 2-3-0 picking up four of a possible ten points. They had matchups with the Columbus Blue Jackets, San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals.
Three games were played on the road and two were at home. Buffalo went 1-1 at home beating the Capitals and losing to the Sharks. They went 1-2 on the road beating the Coyotes and losing by 5-1 scores to the Stars as well as the Jackets.
Away from Key Bank Center, the club was outscored 14-7 by their opponents and on home ice, they outscored their counterpart 5-4. The overall goal differential was a -6 with 12 goals for and 18 goals against over the five games.
Signs of Improvement
If you take out the two bad games against Dallas and Columbus, the Sabres were arguably the better team for three of the five games. They were the better team for 55 minutes in Arizona, the majority of the game against the Capitals and a case could be made they deserved a better fate in the game against the Sharks.
Of course, picking up four out of a possible ten points is not the desired outcome, but nonetheless, we’re seeing some better hockey being played. Some players are starting to find their stride and don’t look now, but injury help may be on the way.
In the past five games, two players have stood out and are starting to be key contributors on the score sheet. First one is Benoit Pouliot who has three goals and four points in his last five games. Including the game-winning goals against Arizona and Washington. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity to play with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo
Speaking of O’Reilly he’s the other player who has really played well. After a slow start, he’s recorded two goals and five points in the last five games. He looks like the player we saw over his previous two seasons in Buffalo. A good sign for the team moving forward.
Next Five Games
Looking ahead the Sabres have three divisional opponents in the next five game window. They’ll play the Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes. Again two games will be played on home ice and three on the road.
Entering play tonight these teams rank 30th, 25th, 4th, 15th and 26th in the standings respectively. Besides the Penguins in Pittsburgh where the Sabres have really never had success, no game is daunting. Asking for seven or eight points in the next five contests isn’t a crazy a request.
How many points do you think the Sabres will pick up in the next five games?
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