Hockey is back and in full swing, doesn’t it feel great?
Buffalo is always much better when the Sabres find themselves in the top half of the National Hockey League standings.
Through 13 games, Buffalo is ranked first in the NHL with a 9-2-2 record and 20 points. You read that right - first place on the morning of October 29.
We saw this same story last November with a ten-game winning streak but this feels different. Instead of getting lucky in overtime or a shootout, this 2019-20 version of the Buffalo Sabres is working harder, working smarter and earning their breaks.
October 3 – Buffalo 3, Pittsburgh 1
October 5 – Buffalo 7, New Jersey 2
October 7 – Columbus 4, Buffalo 3 (OT)
October 9 – Buffalo 5, Montreal 4 (OT)
October 11 – Buffalo 3, Florida 2 (SO)
October 14 – Buffalo 4, Dallas 0
October 16 – Anaheim 5, Buffalo 2
October 17 – Buffalo 3, Los Angeles 0
October 19 – Buffalo 4, San Jose 3
October 22 – Buffalo 4, San Jose 3 (OT)
October 24 – NY Rangers 6, Buffalo 2
October 25 – Buffalo 2, Detroit 0
October 28 – Arizona 3, Buffalo 2 (SO)
Three Big Things
1: A True Team Effort
One thing that lacked last season was an all-around team effort. Depth scoring was missing throughout most of the season, special teams had their struggles and goaltending was not the best.
Through October 28, it appears things have taken a turn in the 2019-20 season.
Buffalo currently leads the National Hockey League with 20 points.
Their 43 goals scored ranks the Buffalo Sabres fifth overall in scoring.
Buffalo’s 29.8% success on the power play has them ranked third overall.
Carter Hutton’s six wins have him tied for second in the NHL.
Linus Ullmark’s .932 save percentage has him sitting in seventh place, among qualifying goaltenders.
The first 13 games of the season, most importantly Buffalo’s 9-2-2 record, has been a team effort across the board. Something that we saw glimpses of last season with this squad, but this season feels different so far.
Playoff chances, West and East.— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) October 28, 2019
Ten east teams with better than 50% chances to make the playoffs, you love to see it. pic.twitter.com/C1nJNFVUrB
2: Captain Jack
We would be hard pressed to talk about the month of October and not mention Jack Eichel. The recently-turned 23 year old is having one heck of a start to the 2019-20 NHL season.
In 13 October games, Eichel posted 17 points (seven goals, ten assists). This goes down as the best October in Eichel’s young career.
A strong start out of the gate has Eichel tied for seventh in goals league-wide and sixth overall in points.
The offense has been strong across the board but it is no secret that when Eichel is hot, the offense is hot.
One very strange split we have seen throughout October is Eichel’s home / road performance.
At home, Eichel has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in six home games. On the road, Eichel only has three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games.
Home cooking is real nice to the sweet boy but that road performance will need to improve throughout the season.
3: Strong in Net
Goaltending has been a wonderful surprise throughout the month of October - a strong reason that Buffalo has started off so hot.
Carter Hutton posted a 6-1-1 record throughout the month of October with 2.21 goals allowed per game. Hutton also posted a .926 save percentage.
Not to be outdone, Linus Ullmark posted a 3-1-1 record with 2.56 goals allowed per game. Ullmark bested Hutton with a .932 save percentage.
Competition is healthy in net, especially when both players are playing very good hockey. While these two continue to serve games back and forth, the Buffalo Sabres clearly benefit from their healthy competition in net.