If the Buffalo Sabres anticipate rising above the meddling teams at the bottom of the NHL standings, they need to start beating them. From the outcome of the Buffalo Sabres last three games – it appears as if, at least defensively, this team could go on a stretch of games and climb back into the picture.
In the last three games, the Buffalo Sabres have earned 5 out of a possible six points, and held their opponents to two goals while doing it. It appears that Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller have his head on stretch finally, and is prepared to win the team some games. Miller has been a sticking point on why this team could not win through their tumulous spiral downwards. Miller at one time could play superb when the team in front of him was failing, and keep them in games, at least long enough to secure the loser point. The expression on Millers face to right says it all, as he ponders how he might be able to score, while stopping opponents chances as well.
Saturday’s contest against the New York Islanders is an important two points for the Buffalo Sabres – the Islanders are just one point back from the Buffalo Sabres, and are 6-3-1 in their last ten. Usually looking forward to the lottery draft at this point in the season, there are five teams under the Islanders, but playing spoiler is what they do best. After running up the score on the Carolina Hurricanes to end the month of January, the Senators take on the Ottawa Senators tonight, in Ottawa. Travelling after the game, the Buffalo Sabres will be waiting in the unfriendly and ugly confines of the Nassau Coliseum, hopefully with fresh legs and a fresh lineup.
While the defense and goaltending seem to have been fixed recently, both in health wise and mentally, the offense continues to struggle at putting the puck in the net. Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek are on the cusp of scoring 20 goals, low totals for even the best of Buffalo forwards. The only other forward for the Buffalo Sabres to have double digit goals is rookie Luke Adam, who has put 10 goals in for the Blue and Gold.
Derek Roy and Drew Stafford are a mark or two away from hitting ten. The closest forward after that is Paul Gaustad with 5 goals. Jordan Leopold from the blue line has 8 tallies.
Pominville and Vanek’s 36 tallies represent 29% of the scoring for the Buffalo Sabres.
The Bruins top two scorers (Seguin and Marchand) account for 21 percent of their teams goals, but they have six forwards with 14 or more goals.
Ottawa led by Michalek and Spezza, have their top two goal scorers carrying 26% of the load. Again, six of their forwards have double digit scoring.
In Toronto Kessel and Lupul have carried the offense as much as Buffalo’s top forwards – but have Grabovski and MacArthur scoring at a pretty good pace as well. Only those four Leafs have double digit goals.
Even in Montreal, they have six forwards with double digit goal scoring, with their scoring leaders Cole and Pacioretty carrying 27% of the load.
Percentage wise, the Buffalo Sabres are right in the mix with the other teams in the divisions top forwards, it is the secondary scoring that the Sabres are lacking. Even buying at the trade deadline will not help the Sabres overcome that fact – putting the puck in the net seems to be th eonly answer to a season full of lows.