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A Losing Mindset

The Sabres continue to struggle stringing wins together, which is nothing new in Buffalo.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

With the halfway point of the season quickly approaching, the Buffalo Sabres are all but eliminated from playoff contention. Despite some high hopes back in September, this season has never really looked good. After an opening night overtime loss to Montreal, the Sabres were projected to hit 82 points for the season. That was the highest projection of the season so far, with the next highest being sixteen points lower. Let that sink in. Now look at it:

Since (kind of) recovering from an early-season skid, the Sabres have simply not been able to string wins together and get some serious upward momentum. Although the most recent trend is more of a flat line than the downward trends preceding it, it’s a flat line around 57 points, which is far too little, somehow already too late.

What the Sabres need for even the slightest hope at a somewhat decent season is a win streak. Unfortunately, the Sabres have seemed to develop a losing mindset in which there is no ability to string some wins together, even when the team is “hot”. Analyzing data from the 2013-14 to 2016-17 season, I created distributions of winning and losing streaks by a number of games for each time. Here’s a look at win streaks:

The problem quickly becomes apparent. In a league which other teams expect around half of their winning streaks to only last one game, the Sabres have seen 64% of their win streaks end at one. They have seen a single win streak of four games, and nothing better than that. It’s honestly wild to think about that, especially when you consider some of the winning streaks that Vegas has put together in their inaugural season.

Here’s losing streaks:

Another tough chart to look at. It’s more likely than not that a Sabres losing streak exceeds one game. It’s also more likely that they have a four-game losing streak than a three-game losing streak. Etc. Etc.

Yes, this data includes the “tank years”. But that’s the point. I’m a fan of Jack Eichel just as much as the next guy, but the tank years have seemed to instilled a losing mindset into Buffalo.

Until Buffalo develops a mindset of winning and becomes determined to string some wins together, they will continue to be stuck in a losing mindset, and generational players or not, they’ll continue to disappoint.