Let’s cut right to the chase and start with the graph that used to look so nice but is becoming sadder by the week.
The Buffalo Sabres were bad last season. But at least they were consistently bad. Even stepped things up a bit as the season drew to a close. This season ramped up real quick, and has been a downward spiral ever since. The Sabres are now on pace for just 86 points. I’m scared to know how close those two lines will be to each other at the end of the season.
The Sabres managed to scrape together five points out of a possible fourteen during this recent stretch, all while having the exact same average goals for/against averages as the last stretch— 2.71 for per game and 3.57 against per game. They also allowed their highest shots against per game average during any bi-weekly period— 38.3.
The overall averages so far for goals for and against per game are 2.82 and 3.15, respectively. We’re quickly approaching last season levels of 2.41 for per game and 3.39 against per game. Meanwhile the NHL average floats at around 3.0
To add a positive to the mix, the Power Play has done quite well over the last few weeks. The overall percentage has increased by around 2% from 17% to 18.9%. Still well below the NHL average of 20%, but something worth noting at least.
Focusing on some individual players, here’s a look at points production vs playing time for forwards:
The graph is split into four quadrants based on the average TOI and average production from this group. Consider the bottom left bad, the top right good, the top left underplayed, and the bottom right overplayed.
So yes. Clearly Eichel isn’t the problem. But he’s the captain, and the franchise player, so of course discussions will be centered around his production more so than any other player. And given his pace earlier in the season the concerns about his pace of late weren’t all that unreasonable.
That said, this graph definitely shows the disparity on this team. I think it goes to show that, given that the season is basically lost, it’s time to see the likes of Nylander, etc. to see if they can be a part of the future of this team or if it’s time to pursue other options.
Either way, after this last stretch, the playoff hopes are all but lost. The empirical prediction has begun to converge with the prediction from the model I put together, and it’s converging at the wrong total. Here are the updated results:
PK Pct: 82.3%
Starting Goalie in Top Ten SVP: No
Percent of Games Scoring First: 52.3%
Shooting Percentage: 8.61%
Starting Goalie Games Started Percentage: 58.5%
Corsi For Percentage: 49.21%
Prediction: 85 points.
It’s been unbelievably frustrating to watch this team fall so far so fast. It looks like it’ll be another case of “maybe next year” for the Sabres.