The Buffalo Sabres have defied expectations by earning 11 points in their first six games of the 2019-20 season . . . but the first true test begins this week.
The Buffalo Sabres have exploded out of the gate to start their season, much to the surprise of . . . well . . . everyone. Literally no one who covers the NHL for a living saw the Sabres’ 5-0-1 start coming, and even the most optimistic fans failed to predict that the team would be one OT loss shy of a perfect record through the team’s first six games.
Of course, all the Sabres have accomplished so far is taking advantage of a very friendly start to their 2019-20 season. Buffalo has played four of its first six games at home, where the team went 21-15-5 last season – not spectacular by any means, but above .500. Again, the team has over-achieved a bit by going undefeated at Key Bank Center thus far, but it should not surprise fans to see the team pick up where they left off last season by playing well at home.
In addition to enjoying a lot of home cooking, the Sabres have feasted on some of the weakest teams in the NHL. Through their first six games, the Sabres have only played one team that currently owns a winning record: the Pittsburgh Penguins, currently 4-2-0 on the season. Everyone else? A combined record of 7-15-7.
Basically, the NHL handed the Buffalo Sabres – a team that is dying to redeem itself following its horrendous collapse last season – an early Christmas present to open this season . . . but now that both the confidence levels and the point totals are high, the first real test of 2019-20 begins. The Sabres will play their next three games on the road out West, with only one night’s sandwiched in among three games.
The good news is that, once again, the Sabres are facing a collection of teams whose combined record falls below .500. However, the Anaheim Ducks are one of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference right now, and the San Jose Sharks have posted back-to-back wins after dropping their first four. Even the game against the 2-3-0 Los Angeles Kings will not be a gimme, especially if the Sabres get jumped early against the Ducks and tire themselves out by playing catch up Wednesday evening.
The Sabres are among the NHL leaders in a few categories right now, most notably on special team. Buffalo currently owns the league’s most successful power play, and have been slightly more dangerous with the extra man while on the road. Buffalo’s players must show the same patience they have displayed on the power play thus far while on the west coast; otherwise, the Ducks and Sharks, who own the 10th and 6th best penalty kill units in the league respectively, will negate the Sabres’ biggest advantage.
Stay tuned for our coverage of the Buffalo Sabres’ California tour, beginning with our Three Keys to Success preview of their game against the Anaheimn Ducks tomorrow!