Those, my friends, are just some of the words that I could use if I ever wanted to describe the Buffalo Sabres’ power play this season. Of course, there are some other choice words I could throw out there after last night’s 0-4 effort when Buffalo had the man advantage , but I’m trying to keep it clean! Perhaps my son put it best: “The Sabres really suck tonight, dad,” he told me after another power play passed by with no results.
Yes, son – they did suck last night. The question is, just how bad are the Sabres when it comes to the power play? We all know that Buffalo has the worst power play in the NHL this season . . . but where do they stand when it comes to the bigger picture, the history of the NHL? Hmmm.
According to StatsHockey.net, the worst power play in the history of the NHL belonged to the 1974-1975 Washington Capitals; according to Wikipedia, it is held by the 1997-1998 Tampa Bay Lightning. Both sources have those teams labeled as finding the net on only 9.35% of their man advantages, so whether it was the Capitals, the Lightning, or both, doesn’t much matter. What matters is, that is one hellaciously bad power play.
The Sabres are not quite that bad, as they currently own a power play success rate of 12.5%. Breathe easy Sabres, fans: Buffalo doesn’t own the worst power play in the history of the NHL –yet – even though it certainly does feel that way most nights. (Of course, if they endure another 0-46 drought like they did earlier this season, they may just give that record a run for its money!)
And if you were curious, despite the fact that the Sabres have given up a league-high five short-handed goals this season, they are nowhere near the record of 22 that has been reached by a handful of teams. Whee!
So the Sabres have a ways to go before they reach the depths of infamy – cue the dancing music. Seriously, though, the Sabres’ ineptitude on the power play is going to cost them a shot at the playoffs. Buffalo has played in 21 games decided by only one goal this season, and has lost 12 of those games. If the Sabres had even a decent power play – say, around 18%, which is currently the success rate of the 15th and 16th most successful power play units in the NHL – they would have capitalized on 22 of the 120 power plays they have had this year, as opposed to the 15 times they have scored so far. If even three of those additional seven goals had occurred in any of the one-goal games the Sabres have lost this year, we could very well be discussing a team that is 8th in the Eastern Conference right now.
Instead, we’re looking at a team that is stuck in neutral at the 12th spot, with little to no hope of salvaging this season. I don’t know what Sabres GM Darcy Regier is looking to do with this team – aside, of course, from leaving them stranded in no-man’s land this season – but if he is still the GM of this team once the offseason rolls around, he better start searching for some players who can quarterback the Sabres’ power play. Playing a man or two up is a gift that the Sabres are unable to take advantage of, and it is killing this team. If fixing it is not on the top of the Sabres’ to-do list, then the first firesale this organization has to have should not involve the players – it should involve upper management.