When the season begin many fans picked the Buffalo Sabres to be wild card contenders at best.
While the ten-game winning streak definitely got people’s hopes up, it has also led to a lot of disappointment as the Sabres have begun to regress back toward their original pace.
The Sabres currently sit in the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, only one point clear of the Montreal Canadiens. Buffalo is currently on pace for 98 points.
Last year’s Eastern Conference wild card cut off was 97 points. It will be a race to the finish, but the Sabres need to prove that they can stay on pace and not continue to drop off.
The Sabres only managed to get three out of ten available points this bi-weekly period, and need to figure things out quickly before they drop too far out. With Jack Eichel still injured for the time being, it’s going to take a solid effort.
That starts with more goals.
The Sabres averaged just 1.8 goals per game during this last biweekly stretch, bringing their overall average down to 2.79 for the season.
Meanwhile they allowed 3.00 goals per game during the stretch, bringing that average up to 2.83 for the season. The increased goals against can definitely be attributed to the increased shots against this period.
The Sabres had their worst biweekly stretch yet in terms of shots against, allowing an average of 37.2 per game while only posting 32.8 per game of their own.
As is discussed with this team lately, secondary scoring continues to be a problem.
With Eichel out of the lineup the last few games, it has shown.
Recall that I’ve based the secondary scoring visuals off of top-5 goal scorers, but I imagine this would look even worse given top-3. I’m planning on doing a deep dive on secondary scoring during the All-Star break, so keep an eye out for that.
The Sabres top-5 scoring has fallen to slightly below the NHL average while there secondary scoring from forwards is lagging further and further behind. But there’s always last season’s stats to make us feel better about where we are today.
Most of the stats that go into the points model dropped for the Sabres during this bi-weekly period. Here are the updated results:
PK Pct: 83.6%
Starting Goalie in Top Ten SVP: Yes (Using a 20+ games started filter to proxy for starters)
Percent of Games Scoring First: 54.8%
Shooting Percentage: 8.96%
Starting Goalie Games Started Percentage: 64.3%
Corsi For Percentage: 48.29%
Prediction: 93 points.
The last couple modeled predictions have been floating around the 90 point range. With the Sabres now on pace for 98 points they are out of buffer room and need to put some work in for the second half of the season.
Regardless of what happens, I am personally really enjoying this season. It’s great to be invested in every game, during the ups and the downs.
There’s half a season of hockey left. Let’s see what this team can do with it.