The Buffalo Sabres top scorers have yet to find a rhythm, with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch combining for just one goal in six contests.
To say Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch have had a tough time finding the net is an understatement. However, when you go in-depth and compare the two, there is no question that at the absolute least, Tage is having a much easier time generating chances than Tuch.
While he only has a 3.4 shooting percentage in the early stages of 2023-24, Tage also has a team-best 29 shots on goal through six contests, good for 4.33 per game. Compare this to last season, when he had 295 over 78 games, or 3.78 per contest. Yes, it’s an ultra-small sample size, but it shows us that Tage is getting looks, shooting the puck through traffic, and giving himself ample scoring chances.
What’s more? He also has looked decent on the faceoff dot, clocking in with a 48.5 FOW%. No, it’s nothing to brag about, but compare that to last season, when he won just 43.1 percent of his faceoffs. Once again, it’s a tiny sample size to compare, but it shows us that despite the low scoring output, Tage is still producing.
He has also been more physical with five hits and he even made his presence felt defensively on the penalty kill. Tage also has five takeaways in six contests, putting him on pace early to shatter his career-best of 49 in 2021-22.
Buffalo Sabres forwards are heading in opposite directions early
So far in six contests, Alex Tuch has just one assist and 10 shots on goal. Doing the math for the latter, he had 218 in 74 games last season, good for 2.94 per contest. So early on, he’s on pace to sail well below that number. He has also only attempted 24 shots, which is fewer than Tage’s overall number of shots on goal, something none of us saw coming through six games.
The Buffalo Sabres as a unit also haven’t been as strong with Tuch on the ice at 5-on-5, logging a Corsi For of 54.1 while Tage’s sits at 63.3. Tage’s Fenwick For is also 61.3 percent, while Tuch’s is exactly 10 percentage points lower. This further indicates how much more effective Tage has been in generating chances than Tuch.
Overall, the eye test tells us that Tuch has basically performed a disappearing act in the first six contests of the season. But when you look at the numbers, they confirm that Tage, despite recording just one point, has been by far the better player.
Does this mean we need to panic about Tuch? Absolutely not. Like I’ve mentioned quite a few times, October isn’t the time to push the panic button, and Tuch is the kind of player who can bounce back and get hot at any time.
Knowing what Tuch is capable of, it shouldn’t surprise anyone in the slightest if he turns things around at a moment’s notice. Perhaps that will happen tonight when the Sabres face-off with the Ottawa Senators.
Source: Sabres still waiting for Alex Tuch, Tage Thompson to kick offense into gear by Matthew Fairburn, The Athletic
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)