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Positive Takeaways from Sabres’ 2022-23 Season

While fans are understandably disappointed that the Buffalo Sabres failed to make the postseason yet again, the team made some huge improvements over the past few years. Here are a few of these:

1)   Total Points and Wins Close to Last Playoff Season

The Sabres ended this season with 91 points, 42 wins and 33 losses in regulation. That’s the best record since 2010-11, the last time the Blue and Gold were in the playoffs. That year, Buffalo ended the regular season with 96 points, 43 wins and 29 regulation losses.

Those win-loss numbers even approach the most recent season the Sabres made it to the finals, in 1998-99. That year, Buffalo had a 37-28 win-loss record and the same point total, 91, as the season just ended. While there were fewer NHL teams back then and making the playoffs was easier, the metrics are still impressive.

2022-23 was the best season the Sabres played in 12 years. Fans haven’t seen stats like that in more than a decade. If the team can keep it up next year, they’ll finally end the NHL’s longest postseason drought.

2)   Top Players Keep Getting Better

Many of the Sabres’ best forwards and defenseman made a big leap over the previous season. Tage Thompson, Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch had 94, 82 and 79 points, respectively. By contrast, they enjoyed just 68, 63 and 38 points in 2021-22. Their goals and assists also improved across the board.

Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had an amazing 73 points this year, compared to just 53 the previous season. Casey Mittelstadt finished last season with only 19 points, but ended this one with 59. Dylan Cozens’ point numbers shot up from 38 to 68 over the same span. While not everybody on the roster improved, (Okposo and Olofsson’s points totals decreased) many of those on Buffalo’s best lines did far better this year than last.

3)   Home Ice Attendance, TV Ratings Up

With more players scoring, performing better and winning more games, fans finally came back to KeyBank Center in downtown Buffalo. While the Blue and Gold won the same number of home games as last season (17), spectators felt the team had much better on-ice chemistry, work ethic and of course, points and wins.

An average of 15,565 fans per game made the trek to Seymour H. Knox III Plaza to watch their team play in 2022-23, compared to just 9,595 the previous season. There was only one sold out game in 2021-22, RJ Night against the Nashville Predators on April 1st. This season, there were nine sell out games. Last year, 29 home matchups had attendance below 10,000. This year only one did.

With 25 vs. 15 road wins this year and a large number of fans who watch games from the comfort of their home, TV viewership is up. Sabres games averaged a 5.3 rating for the hockey year just ended, compared to 3.9 last year, a 37% increase. During Buffalo’s last 13 contests, the rating was 6.4, with 7 of their last 13 matchups on MSG hitting 7 or higher ratings.

Not everything is perfect (the Sabres still have some issues on defense and goaltending) but based on many stats, the team is moving the right way. After suffering losing season after losing season for 12 years, players are performing much better overall and a lot of fans are hopeful and excited again. If these trends continue next year, a playoff run is inevitable.

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