The Buffalo Sabres are squaring off vs. the Calgary Flames in their fourth game of the season. This will be the Sabres first opportunity for back-to-back wins.
Sitting at 1-1-1, the Calgary Flames are looking to get over 0.500 tonight, but the Buffalo Sabres would rather snag their first two-game winning streak of the season. The Blue and Gold are coming off a thrilling overtime win vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, but some familiar issues arose in that outing.
Still, a win is a win, and it puts them in a prime position to get on a roll with another W tonight. But the Flames won’t be the easiest team to beat, considering some recent numbers.
A few days back, I noted that the Flames had a 100 percent success rate on the penalty kill. That has not changed, and Calgary sits at 10 for 10 heading into tonight’s contest. Unfortunately for the Blue and Gold, their power play has yet to convert, so don’t expect them to have it easy tonight.
Flames may pose a huge challenge for the Buffalo Sabres, unless…
Calgary also does a good job with limiting high-danger chances at 5-on-5, holding opponents to just 18 total in their first three games, or six per contest. However, opponents have converted a pair of them into goals. So if the Sabres can find a way to break through, they could find twine IF they decide to take more shots tonight.
If there is good news for the Sabres here, it’s that they have converted two of their 14 high-danger chances at 5-on-5. Unfortunately for Buffalo, they have also allowed 25 on the season, which sits two over the NHL’s average of 23, and the Flames just happen to have forged 25 of their own. The good news, however, is that Calgary has yet to score on these chances, per Hockey-Reference.
At 5-on-5, Calgary is also just shooting the puck at 5.4 percent, while they accumulated a save percentage of just 0.871, both of which sit well below the NHL average of 7.5 percent and 0.925, respectively. The Sabres are better in both categories, even if they’re also below the league average, with a 6.9 shooting percentage and a 0.918 save percentage.
You look at these numbers, and it’s safe to say that the Buffalo Sabres have a good chance of winning this contest if they can stay out of the penalty box. Sure, the PK unit has been great so far, but with a high-octane power play that the Flames have, it’s best to try and keep this game at 5-on-5 or at least at even strength as much as they can.
(All statistics and analytics provided by Hockey-Reference)