It’s official: The Buffalo Sabres are now less than 10 days away from their season-opener vs. the New York Rangers on October 12th.
Recently, I’ve been praising the Buffalo Sabres for the physicality they showed this past Saturday vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets. This was a stark contrast to what we saw far too often last season that resulted in opponents bullying the Blue and Gold every chance they got, which can be the case with young hockey teams.
Now that the Sabres are one year more experienced, their physical play will without a doubt increase. However, I have yet to get bold on the subject, so today, we’re going the numerological route once more and going long with how many Sabres players will end up with 66-plus hits.
Last season, that number was meager, with only six players sailing north of the number: Mattias Samuelsson, Rasmus Dahlin, Ilya Lyubushkin, Zemgus Girgensons, Peyton Krebs, and Kyle Okposo. Henri Jokiharju flew just south of the number with 63 hits.
Buffalo Sabres will have 12 players log at least 66 hits in 2023-24
I’ll keep all things equal and say all the above names (minus Lyubushkin, obviously) will once again snag at least 66 hits. Yep, even if Kyle Okposo finds himself on a “pitch count,” he will make the most of his ice time and snag the lofty number.
Joining them will be Erik Johnson and Connor Clifton, giving us seven players. And while Johnson, like Okposo, may not play in a huge number of games, you should nonetheless expect him to sail far north of 66. In just 63 appearances last year, Johnson hit triple-digits, so this should be a simple task for the aging blueliner.
We will also see a few forwards getting in on the fun, including Dylan Cozens, Alex Tuch, Jordan Greenway, and Tage Thompson, along with blueliner Riley Stillman, who should make the roster out of camp. That makes a dozen Buffalo Sabres who haven’t been afraid to get physical in the past up that portion of their game in 2023-24, and perhaps even beyond should those playing on smaller contracts remain in the Queen City.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)