The Buffalo Sabres are not a one-man show, and the parity in talent on this year’s team is thus far helping propel them to success.
From big names up front like Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Jason Pominville to the backend defenders like Rasmus Ristolainen, Rasmus Dahlin and Jake McCabe, to the netminders in Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark - the Sabres are getting help from every player on the ice, and it’s making a difference.
The most obvious showing of the parity of this year’s team is the fact that over the Sabres’ current nine-game winning streak, nine different players have tallied the game-winning or game-deciding goal.
Yes, Eichel, Skinner and Pominville are on that list. But so are Evan Rodrigues, Sam Reinhart, Kyle Okposo, Connor Sheary, Casey Mittelstadt and Ristolainen.
Twenty-one different skaters have appeared in at least one game with the Sabres so far this season. Twenty of those skaters have registered at least a point; the lone exception is Remi Elie, who has only played in five games.
We’ve already heard plenty about the Sabres’ top line, with Eichel, Skinner and Pominville combining for 72 points on the season. Skinner majorly leads the team with 18 goals - double that of the next player on the list, Pominville. Eichel is far above anyone else when it comes to assists, with 23.
But it’s not just those three who are finding success this season. Through 24 games, Reinhart has put up 16 points, 13 of which are assists. Okposo has 14 points. Ristolainen and Dahlin, despite being defensemen, have 13 points each.
Sure, there are some players on the team’s roster who can step up. Vladimir Sobotoka and Zemgus Girgensons each have only five points. Take Thompson has four points on the season but has stepped up big time in the last few games, including his huge shootout goal in the win over Detroit.
When you look at teams that find long-term success, they don’t just have one player or one line producing on a regular basis. Production and strength need to come from all sides - offense, defense, goaltending.
Speaking of goaltending - the Sabres have two solid goaltenders this season. Carter Hutton has been stellar in net, winning 11 of the 17 games he’s started with a .919 save percentage and 2.53 GAA. Linus Ullmark has only appeared in seven games, but he’s won five of those and has a 2.52 GAA and .926 save percentage.
All of this parity across lines and positions is helping to propel the Sabres to success, and it’s working. A nine-game winning streak, nine different game-winning goal scorers, 20 different players with at least a point, and holding first place in the NHL for a day speaks volumes about what this team is doing right this season, and how they can continue forward.