Struggling Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild Square Off


As the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild meet tonight, here’s the good news: Someone has to win.

Since the NHL eliminated ties, one of the struggling teams WILL see the end of their losing streak tonight when the teams face off at First Niagara Center in downtown Buffalo.

So — how do these two teams compare?


As it stands right now, the Buffalo Sabres are still searching for their first win of 2015. In fact, the Buffalo Sabres haven’t won since December 27 in a shootout victory over the New York Islanders – a span of eight games. That’s a season-high losing streak.

The Minnesota Wild, meanwhile, are also riding the struggle bus, in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Their last win came on January 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Most recently, the Wild dropped a 7-2 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. This is also a season-high losing streak for the Wild.


Both the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild sit at the bottom of their respective divisions. The Sabres are 8th in their division and are nine points back from the 7th-place Ottawa Senators.

The Wild are 7th in their seven-team division and are four points back from the 6th-place Colorado Avalanche.

Overall, the Buffalo Sabres are the worst team in the Eastern Conference, while the Wild are third-worst in the Western Conference.


Even though both the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild are struggling lately, their overall struggles this season are not exactly on the same level.

Let’s look at scoring, to start.

The Buffalo Sabres have scored a league-low 82 goals on the season, averaging out to 1.86 goals per game. The Minnesota Wild have scored 113 goals, which averages out to 2.69 goals per game.

The Wild have also played two fewer games.

Breaking it down from an individual standpoint:

Tyler Ennis leads the Buffalo Sabres with 24 points in 44 games. Zemgus Girgensons has a team-high 11 goals, while Ennis and Drew Stafford each have 15 assists. Just three Buffalo Sabres players have 20 or more points this season.

For the Wild, it’s Jason Pominville, who has 33 points in 42 games. Jason Zucker has a team-high 15 goals, while Pominville leads the team with 24 assists. Seven Minnesota Wild players have 20 or more points this season.

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Twelve Wild players have a zero or better plus-minus. In comparison, just four Buffalo Sabres players have a zero or better plus-minus…. including three players who have only seen action in one game (Matt Ellis, Joel Armia and Zac Dalpe).


Another interesting category to look at are shot differentials.

As a whole, the Buffalo Sabres have taken 1,018 shots this season. Minnesota Wild players – in two fewer games, remember – have taken 1,334 shots.

That’s an average of 23.27 shots per game versus an average of 31.88 shots per game — quite a difference.

Ennis is the lone Buffalo Sabres player with over 100 shots this season, while Jason Pominville, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu have all tallied upwards of 100 shots.

The Buffalo Sabres have been outshot by their opponents in 38 games this season. The Minnesota Wild have been outshot in just 11 of their 42 games.

The Buffalo Sabres have allowed their opponents to get 30 or more shots in a game 37 times. Minnesota has allowed their opponents 30+ shots 15 times.

Upping the mark even further, the Buffalo Sabres have allowed their opponents 40+ shots eight times; Minnesota, just twice. The Sabres have been outshot by their opponent by a differential of 10 or higher an astounding 25 times this season; that same statistic falls at just six games for the Wild.

Finally, the Buffalo Sabres have registered less than 20 shots in eleven games this season. The Wild have registered 20 or more shots in all but one game.

Overall, the Buffalo Sabres have allowed 542 more shots than they’ve taken this season (1,560 to 1,018). The Wild have TAKEN 185 more shots than they’ve allowed (1,334 to 1,149).


Now – all of the numbers I’ve previously referenced have been solely to compare the Buffalo Sabres and tonight’s opponent, the Minnesota Wild. We haven’t compared any of these statistics to other teams or the NHL average. I’m fairly certain if we were to compare, it wouldn’t be pretty – so what’s the point?

The point is that both the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild are struggling, no matter which way you look at it. The Sabres are 14-27-3 on the season; the Wild, 18-19-5. Both teams are on lengthy losing streaks — one of which will end tonight.

But looking at all the numbers… either way you spin it, the Buffalo Sabres are, quite frankly, better at being bad this season.

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