Buffalo Sabres: 3 bold predictions following the All-Star break
The Buffalo Sabres return to the ice on February 11th against the Calgary Flames. What can we expect following the break? Here are three bold predictions.
Since this is also a truncated week, today’s bold predictions piece will look different from previous articles. Instead of going bold with the Buffalo Sabres week, I’m instead going to make bold predictions for the final 32 games on the schedule.
And when I say bold, I mean I am going ultra-bold here. So if these predictions appear to be rather farfetched, you’ll know why. But enough talking. Let’s get to the good stuff.
1 – Buffalo Sabres finish the season first in scoring
For being the youngest team in the NHL, ranking 3rd overall in scoring at the All-Star break is an impressive feat. And while some Sabres critics will point to the team ranking 22nd in goals allowed as a catalyst for their scoring output, does it really matter?
The Blue and Gold’s high-octane ways weren’t there this time last season, and the team suffered as a result. This year, they forged an identity of a fast-paced unit that can score on you at any time. Their impressive scoring isn’t a result of poor defense and at times, goaltending; it’s a result of their overall style of play.
2 – THREE Sabres finish the season with at least 90 points
This one is probably the boldest prediction on the list. But Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, and Rasmus Dahlin can realistically get there. Last week, I said the All-Star break came to the Sabres at the right time, and what I meant was that the break gave them time to heal and regroup.
Especially Tage Thompson, who sustained an upper body injury in that final game against Carolina and didn’t play in the third period. Following the 10-day break, the Sabres will be well-rested and healthier, and I have no doubt they will come out firing on all cylinders against Calgary to start things off. Expect the three aforementioned names to, at the absolute least, threaten 90 points.
3 – Luukkonen records a 0.910 save percentage, <3.00 GAA
And finally, the Buffalo Sabres have a potential franchise goaltender in Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. While some may claim Devon Levi is still “the guy,” there’s nothing wrong with having two franchise goaltenders on the roster about two years from now, is there?
Anyway, look for Luukkonen to play his best hockey down the stretch, as he’s gotten better with each passing month. While I don’t believe he will record the numbers listed above overall, he’s playing well enough to record a 0.910 save percentage and below a 3.00 GAA over his remaining starts during the second half of the season.
Overall, these are some of the boldest predictions I’ve made yet this year. But considering how the Sabres have exceeded the expectations of many fans and those in NHL circles, I know they will at least close in on the projections I listed above.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)
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