December had moments of positivity for the Buffalo Sabres but ultimately, the positivity trended downward into a hard losing streak to end the month.
Buffalo closed out 2019 in typical ugly fashion - blowing a 4-1 lead at home.
The Sabres are not too far away from a potential playoff spot heading into 2020 but their inconsistency - coupled with other teams getting going - is really starting to hurt their playoff hopes.
December 2 - Buffalo 7, New Jersey 1
December 5 - Calgary 4, Buffalo 3
December 7 - Vancouver 6, Buffalo 5 (OT)
December 8 - Buffalo 3, Edmonton 2 (OT)
December 10 - Buffalo 5, St. Louis 2
December 12 - Buffalo 4, Nashville 3
December 14 - NY Islanders 3, Buffalo 2 (OT)
December 17 - Toronto 5, Buffalo 3
December 19 - Philadelphia 6, Buffalo 1
December 21 - Buffalo 3, Los Angeles 1
December 23 - Ottawa 3, Buffalo 1
December 27 - Boston 3, Buffalo 0
December 29 - Boston 3, Buffalo 2
December 31 - Tampa Bay 6, Buffalo 4
Three Big Things
1: A Downward Trend
Buffalo entered the month of December with an opportunity to take handle of a playoff spot and run with it.
Instead, Buffalo finished 2019’s final month with a record of 5-7-2 - collecting 12 of a potential 28 points.
For a team looking to hold strong in a tight playoff race, that just is not enough.
As pointed out by Micah McCurdy, Buffalo’s point projection heading into 2020 is not good. The Sabres find themselves projected for 84.4 points this season. The Atlantic Division is projecting out to need 94.4 points to obtain a playoff position.
Something has to give.
Point projections over the past fortnight. pic.twitter.com/S3PqCllauD— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) January 1, 2020
2: Lacking Consistency
The Buffalo Sabres have been plagued throughout this season with an ability to be consistent.
We have seen Buffalo roll off a few wins in a row and the subsequent fall back to Earth is harsh.
December was another case study that backed up this thought process.
Buffalo started the month by steam-rolling the New Jersey Devils, on their way to winning four of six games.
As the month continued, the trend continued to roll downhill.
The Sabres ended the month with losing four straight games and seven of eight games overall.
3: Jack Eichel, Our Captain
We need to spend some more time talking about Jack Eichel.
Eichel spent the month of December doing incredible things again, which is what we have come to expect from the Buffalo Sabres captain.
For the second straight month, Eichel put up 18 points - nine goals and nine assists. This time, Eichel did it in 13 games.
Eichel’s season statistics after December are very nice - 25 goals, 28 assists in 40 games. That puts Eichel on-pace for 51 goals, 57 assists and 107 points.
Looking back, this would give the Buffalo Sabres their first 50+ goal scorer since Pat LaFontaine (53) and Alexander Mogilny (76) surpassed the mark in 1992-93.
It would also give the Buffalo Sabres their first 100+ point scorer since Pat LaFontaine (148) and Alexander Mogilny (127) surpassed the mark in 1992-93.