Since the Buffalo Sabres only played three games during the last bi-weekly period, I decided to combine #9/10 into one write up. In those ten games combined the Sabres saw an up and down performance, ending up with 9 out of a possible 20 points. This led to another slight drop in their overall pace, bringing them to an empirically projected 89 points overall.
As tough as that top line is to look at, it’s still (at least slightly) reassuring to see how much higher it is than last season’s line.
The goals for and against continued to be poor for Buffalo. It’s been a steady decrease in goals against and increase in goals for over time.
This pattern fits the general theme of the discussion around the Sabres over the last several weeks. They started to loose their scoring touch a while ago, and while the goalies were doing decent in giving them a fighting chance, their performance is now starting to suffer as well. These are the situations that led to things like Sam Reinhart’s comment about the goalies, whether he intended it or not. That in turn can quickly become Phil Housely losing a locker room that seemed so together not all that long ago.
Here’s a look at that goalies specifically (note that this does include ENG):
With 24 games to go, the Sabres still have plenty of time to turn things around. They currently sit six points out of a Wild Card spot with a game in hand. But given their current trends, it’s hard to imagine they’ll be able to engineer a successful turnaround.
This, in my opinion, is a crucial moment for Jack Eichel. Eichel has recent officially become the face of the franchise with his contract extension and captaincy. He is the one who is tasked with turning this team around more so than any other player.
Unfortunately, Eichel simply hasn’t been producing at the pace he was earlier in the season. Here’s a graph of his point production in the same time span (again on a five game rolling average).
Clearly Eichel’s injury slowed his momentum. He has since climbed back up to a solid pace but I personally think it’s reasonable for fans to want a little more out of the face of their franchise. It’s one issue out of many, but with Eichel’s star status, it will remain in the spotlight.
Turning attention to the model I created over the summer, it’s starting to agree that the Sabres aren’t looking all that hot. As the season starts to wind down, it makes sense that the empirical and analytical projections are starting to converge, but worrisome that they’re converging towards a number in the 80’s.
PK Pct: 81.7%
Starting Goalie in Top Ten SVP: No
Percent of Games Scoring First: 50.0%
Shooting Percentage: 8.70%
Starting Goalie Games Started Percentage: 58.6%
Corsi For Percentage: 49.45%
Prediction: 85 points.
We are very quickly entering now or never territory when it comes to this team pushing for a playoff spot. I’m particularly interested to see what kind of deals get made as the trade deadline approaches.