Buffalo Sabres: Are We In Must-Win Mode Yet?

The Buffalo Sabres have flipped the script: after a hot opening month, the team has yet to secure a point in November.  Can we panic yet?

Let’s cut right to the chase: the Buffalo Sabres are a hot mess right now.

After hovering around the top of the NHL scoreboard for the entire month of October, the Sabres have earned a whopping single point since they earned one point after losing to the Arizona Coyotes in a shootout back on October 28.  The team has been outscored 20-10 in five games this month, and have fallen all the way to tenth place in the Eastern Conference after starting the month in second.

Whether it is the team’s inability to score in 5-on-5 situations, or the fact that their special teams have been weak as of late (remember: just a few games ago, Buffalo owned the NHL’s most successful power play!), there is no doubt about it: the Sabres have not played well enough to win for over two weeks now.  Fans are beginning to think that the way the team in October was just a fluke, and that it is time for the Buffalo Sabres organization to take action NOW, before the season slips away.

Given how quickly the Sabres went from hot to not last season, it is easy to understand why so many fans are hitting the panic button right now.  If you are a Buffalo fan, having your hopes dashed by your favorite team is an annual occurrence!    Still, it seems a bit early to be in full-blown panic mode: with 64 games left to play this season, the Sabres are just one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Toronto Maple Leafs for a wild card spot.  Granted, the Sabres were actually in first place in the Eastern Conference at one point this season, but still: 64 games left to play is a LOT of hockey.

So: for those people who propose that the Sabres do this with Rasmus Dahlin . . .

. . . or Casey Mittlestadt . . .


. . . probably need to relax.  Buffalo’s most recent losses have come against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Carolina Hurricanes, two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.  And, while the Sabres did not look particularly impressive against the Lightning while in Sweden, the team fought back to tie the game twice last night against the Hurricanes, showing that there is some fight left.  As an added bonus, the Sabres got four goals from four different players last night, all of them at even strength.  For a team that has been relying on special teams and the same four players to produce, seeing someone other than Jeff Skinner, Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart find the back of the net was a huge relief (even though Skinner did start the scoring for Buffalo).

So don’t panic just yet, Buffalo Sabres fans!  The Sabres still have a ton of games left against teams in the middle and bottom third of the league.  As long as the Blue and Gold can take care of business against those teams, the playoffs will still be more than just a pipe dream!

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