The Buffalo Sabres have excelled on the penalty kill, but their power play remains a work in progress. That can change tonight against Philadelphia.
Nothing has surprised us more in the Buffalo Sabres first nine games than its penalty kill, which sits at 89.2 percent and is one of the NHL’s best. Their power play, however, is a different story, with the team having converted just 10.7 percent of their chances, and has, at best, been inconsistent in select games.
But tonight, the Sabres are facing a weak special teams unit in the Philadelphia Flyers. Through nine games, Philadelphia’s power play has been nearly as bad as Buffalo’s converting just 12.5 percent of their chances. Their penalty kill is also cringe-worthy, as they have allowed six power play goals in 25 attempts, giving them a success rate of 76.0 percent.
Buffalo Sabres have a perfect opportunity to improve their special teams tonight
You look at these numbers and you should be thinking that the Blue and Gold have an opportunity to finally start meshing on their own power play while further improving their penalty kill. While there is no doubt the penalty kill is up for the challenge, it all comes back to that “playing down to” mantra that plagued the Sabres last year against this Flyers team. In short, Buffalo’s PK unit needs to treat the Flyers power play as though it’s the league’s best.
Meanwhile, the power play must act with urgency, get quick shots toward, and crash the net when they have the man advantage. If they can overwhelm presumably Carter Hart (or Sam Ersson) early and often, perhaps the unit will finally turn in a decent, consistent performance.
It is worth noting, however, that the Flyers have scored four shorthanded goals this season, so the Buffalo Sabres can’t make the mistake and think they can do what they want with the puck. The Flyers will make them pay for such mistakes should they get reckless with the puck on the man advantage.
(Statistics and data provided by Hockey-Reference)