The Buffalo Sabres haven’t been hot on the power play this season, but it gives them their best chance to defeat the New York Islanders tonight.
The Buffalo Sabres power play currently sits at a 7.69 percent conversation rate, which is an awful number compared to the NHL’s average of 20.46 percent. Overall, they are just 1 for 13 so far in this young season, but as I’ve said plenty of times – we don’t need to worry too much so early in the year.
As for the penalty kill, it’s been a different story, as the Blue and Gold (or Black and Red) have allowed just 1 goal in 16 opportunities at 4-on-5. At 93.75 percent, the Sabres penalty kill is roughly 14 percentage points above the league average of 79.54, and that trend could continue tonight.
Shifting gears to the New York Islanders, they also have a weak power play, which has converted just once in their first three games in eight attempts. But the Isles, despite being one of the NHL’s strongest teams defensively at 5-on-5, have stagnated on the PK.
Buffalo Sabres must draw penalty after penalty tonight vs. Islanders
No, the Sabres haven’t been good on the power play, and the last time they played the Islanders, the Black and Red went 0 for 2 with the man advantage. However, New York has struggled at 4-on-5, going just 4 for 10 on the penalty kill and 4 of 8 against teams not named the Sabres.
It’s still early, but when you do the math, the Islanders have the second-worst PK unit in hockey and the worst in the Eastern Conference. Sure, you can argue that this is a small sample size, and it’s even smaller when you realize that their 10 opportunities on the PK is the second-lowest in hockey.
But either way you spin it, the Islanders have struggled, and if the Sabres can convert just a pair of them tonight, it will be a huge boost for a team that has struggled to find offense in the season’s early going. Recent history also shows us that the Sabres and Islanders have played in low-scoring affairs lately, so two power play goals would be a major difference-maker in this one.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)