The Buffalo Sabres are struggling to win at home this year, and win with their number one goalie, Ryan Miller. Last night the team got into a sloppy shootout with the Winnipeg Jets. While the Buffalo Sabres emerged from the overtime conflict with the Jets victorious, it was more because of undisciplined play by the rookie franchise that took them on a parade to the penalty box late in the game.
Regardless of that the Sabres are fitting nicely into the puzzle in the Northeast Division. With the Florida Panthers opening up the offensive throttle on the Toronto Maple Leafs last night, the Buffalo Sabres are only one point behind the Leafs for the division lead.
The Northeast is starting to shape up the way it should, as one of the strongest divisions in the NHL. Boston started slow, but is slowly surging towards the top of the standings, just three and a half games back from the division lead. Ottawa is the wild card this year. While they are at the .500 mark, they could easily turn and shoot up the standings or drop depending on how their rebuilding efforts and injuries go. Montreal could also turn things on if they can get the chemistry bug worked out. Despite holding onto the division lead, Toronto has a negative goal differential. Both Ottawa and Boston lead the division in that respect, despite being nestled towards the bottom of the conference. Its a safe bet that the Boston Bruins don’t stay in the basement much longer. If things pan out standings wise, the top eight teams come spring could see a healthy dose of the Northeast.
Putting the Sabres rough start into perspective, the Washington Capitals started out 7-0 as the hottest team in the NHL. They have since cooled off some and while they have played one fewer game than the Sabres, have the same number of wins. So far only Pittsburgh, Edmonton, and Dallas have reached 20 points or better. The Buffalo Sabres could join that club as early as Friday when they face the Ottawa Senators.
The Buffalo Sabres offense has been the least of the coaches worries. If the defensive lapses can be fixed, and Ryan Miller can get his head in the game the Buffalo Sabres can turn into the viable threat that they started out being in Europe.