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Then and Now

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As the 2014-2015 season ended, so did the tank. With Eichel on board, how far have the Sabres progressed?

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Minnesota Wild Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

“Buffalo selects Jack Eichel”. Four words that confirmed what was known for so long- change was coming to the Buffalo Sabres. The 2014-2015 season was an atrocity to watch, but the dealing with the terrible play night in and night out was worth it, as it meant acquiring Connor McDavid or, at the very least, Eichel. We all know how the rest of that went (and if you don’t, read the first sentence again).

It’s now three seasons later. The Sabres have still not seen the playoffs since 2010-2011, and are having a season that reminds many of the 2014-2015 campaign... except it’s not on purpose this time. Yea, the thought of Rasmus Dahlin is nice. Really nice, actually. But what about the thought of a playoff run? That’s where the Sabres were supposed to be. Let’s break down where they actually are, compared to that 2014-2015 team, by evaluating both teams at the midway point of their seasons. There’s going to be some graphs, and so I don’t have to deal with a key I’ll just say now: 2017-2018 is blue, 2014-2015 is yellow.

Here are a few key stats:


Midseason Stats

Stat 2014-2015 2017-2018
Stat 2014-2015 2017-2018
Record 14-24-3 10-22-9
Points 31 29
GF per Game 1.76 2.22
GA per Game 3.39 3.37
PP Percentage 9.70% 11.90%
Shots For per Game 23.3 30.9
Shots Against per Game 35.3 32.4
Shooting Percentage 7.50% 7.20%

As bad as the offense is now, it’s been a lot worse. With how tough it is to watch games this season, I can hardly remember what it’s like to watch a team averaging right under 80% the goals this season’s team is averaging. The defense is just as bad as it was. However, despite the increased offense, this season’s team has fewer points at that halfway point than the tank team. Here’s a look at the two midseason point totals over time:



Three years after the tank ended, this is where the Sabres have landed. it’s hard to be excited. The flatline losing streaks are still present, followed by tiny plateaus of “moral victories”.

Even as fans cheered for losses, there were more hopeful days going into the break back then than there has been this season:



Now, just like then, we spend the midway point of season pondering overdraft odds.

The new GM/Head coach duo is once again looking to rebuild this team. Only Eichel is untouchable leading into this year’s trade deadline. It’s going to be an interesting few months, with the decisions made undoubtedly affecting where the Sabres will be in another three seasons.

Where do you think that is?

Poll

As of the end of the 2020-2021 season, the Sabres will...

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    have won one or more Stanley Cups
    (29 votes)
  • 43%
    have won at least one playoff round but no cups
    (223 votes)
  • 31%
    have made the playoffs but not advanced past the first round
    (161 votes)
  • 19%
    will still be in a playoff drought
    (98 votes)
511 votes total Vote Now