Last bi-weekly article discussed and presented a graph on the Sabres increased streaking ability. It was great that they were starting to put two or three game winning streaks together more frequently and keeping more of the losing streaks at one. Over the last two weeks, the Sabres decided to drive that point home, and boy did they ever.
The Sabres played seven games over the course of the last two weeks, and won all seven of them. This brought their wining streak to nine games, and after two weeks in a row of their empirical point projection slowly sneaking downwards, it shot up by twenty points, to 116.
Soak that graph in. Compared to this time last year, the Sabres are on pace for over twice as many points as they were last year. That is, uh, no small accomplishment. So what’s been going right?
The shots for/against per game have actually both changed against the Sabres favor, with the Sabres shots per game regressing to the NHL average (which is now the average of average shots for/against, to deal with the slight difference due to various reasons, including the fact that the Sabres aren’t included in those averages). Meanwhile their shots against per game saw a slight uptick.
Although they both moved in unfavorable directions, the magnitude of the changes are pretty small, so not a huge impact there.
What did make a huge impact, was the continued ability to battle back after going down. Last year the Sabres winning percentage in games they were scored on first was 11.1%. This year, so far, it’s 45.5%. That’s a ridiculous difference that, yes, is clearly due to a better on ice product. However, in my opinion, and you can argue this in the comments all day, also has a lot to do with the culture and the locker room attitude. As Jack Eichel said in a recent interview, no one wants to let the guys around them down. That’s an attitude that simply did not exist over the last several years. I don’t think that can be ignored as a significant factor in the increase winning percentage after being scored on first. As far as scoring first, the Sabres winning percentage this season is 84.6% so far, and was 54.1% last season.
So yea, things are pretty great right now. The winning streak puts the empirical point projection through the roof. But what do the advanced stats say? (model discussed here):
PK Pct: 82.6%
Starting Goalie in Top Ten svp: Yes (Note that I attempt to proxy for starter via games started, using 15 as the cutoff for this article. This puts Hutton in 8th.)
Percent of Games Scoring First: 54.2%
Shooting Percentage: 9.39%
Starting Goalie Games Started Percentage: 70.8%
Corsi For Percentage: 49.25%
Result? A prediction of 99 points (was 94 points last bi-weekly period, even before the crazy winning streak). Not 116 by any means, but that’s playoff material. I’m going to try and play it conservatively and give the Sabres one-more bi-weekly period, but I’m getting really close to officially placing my bet that the Sabres make the playoffs. (Guys, it’s still November, that’s an awesome thought).
What do you guys think? Am I in over my head? Is this real?
Do the Sabres make the playoffs?
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