The Buffalo Sabres entered the month of December tied for first place overall in the NHL. Who would’ve thought a year ago that the Sabres would be in that position right now?
After playing 15 games in 30 days in the month of November, the Sabres face a slightly lighter workload in December, with 13 games in the month. But it won’t be easy; the month includes three sets of back-to-back games and some matchups against tough opponents. And yes, the Sabres have won 10 of their last 12 games, but they’re on a two-game losing streak entering the month, and they’ve got to quickly snap out of that. It won’t be easy.
After a few days off, the Sabres kick off December with a Monday night tilt in Nashville, followed immediately by a home game against Toronto. The Predators and Leafs are among the top four teams in the league, with Buffalo, so these are pretty much guaranteed to be top-notch matchups. Auston Matthews has been sharp since his return from injury for Toronto and games against the Leafs are always interesting regardless.
In addition, the quick turnaround provides its own challenge for the Sabres. The two face-offs are less than 24 hours apart, with travel to factor in between.
That game against the Leafs kicks off a four-game homestead for the Sabres, who will then host Philadelphia (12/8), Los Angeles (12/11) and Arizona (12/13). Those three teams are all in the bottom half of the league right now, including the last-place Kings - but the Sabres can’t take those games lightly.
Following that, the Sabres head to a back-to-back set of games in the middle of the month. They’ll visit the Capitals on December 15 before visiting the Bruins at 5 p.m. the following day - again, a quick turnaround, and this time against two conference opponents.
The Sabres then face three games in five days before the Christmas break. They’ll host the Panthers before traveling once again to face the Capitals on the first part of a back-to-back set of games. The day after visiting Washington, the Sabres host Anaheim.
After a few CBA-mandated days off, the Sabres have three games in the final five days of the calendar year. They’ll visit old friend Ryan O’Reilly in St. Louis before hosting the Bruins and Islanders to close out the month and year.
Last year, the Sabres went 4-5-5 in the month of December. Let’s see how they can improve on that record this year.