The Buffalo Sabres will be red-hot again offensively in 2023-24, but it won’t be enough to make the playoffs when April 2024 rolls around.
Despite playing poorly on defense last season, the Buffalo Sabres came close to earning a trip to the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, they fell just one win shy and were forced into entering their offseason early for the 12th time in a row.
But perhaps the Sabres near-miss is why Jason Chen The Hockey News implied the Sabres could earn a playoff berth because of their elite offensive production. In their short piece, Chen wrote:
"“The Sabres’ defense was very poor last season and it’s certainly a cause for concern for their goalies. The offense, however, is so good that they might be able to bail them out all season. “"
Nobody in the NHL universe will doubt the Sabres ability to score, and with Zach Benson looking as though he’s joining in the fun, the Blue and Gold could be more lethal offensively than they were last season. They came just four goals shy of the 300 mark, and their chances of eclipsing that number this season are pretty good if Benson can keep up his solid play.
Buffalo Sabres offense won’t be enough in 2023-24
Last week, I discussed this issue from another angle, talking about not just the importance of the Sabres possessing a sound defensive rotation, but also that the forwards also need to pitch in. This doesn’t mean the Sabres need to be rockstars when they don’t have the puck (though it would dramatically help if they were), but so far, they’re 0 for 1 with an elite offense and a poor defense. And if the Blue and Gold are interested in going deep into the playoffs, sound defense is a prerequisite.
I can see where Jason Chen is coming from thanks to the way the Buffalo Sabres nearly snagged a postseason berth last year purely with a high-octane offense. But it ultimately didn’t work for them last year, so until it does (and it probably won’t), we can’t claim that the maximum offense, minimum defense approach works in the NHL.