The Buffalo Sabres started the 2023-24 season 0-2-0, and they looked like they forgot how to play offense early. But that trend has since changed.
Sure, the Buffalo Sabres had a few bad games since they started 0-2-0, but for the most part, they have been one of the Eastern Conference’s better teams beginning in Game 3 and running through Game 12 this past Saturday. For one, the Sabres are 6-4-0, with 36 goals for (39 overall), and 30 allowed (38 overall) since losing those first two games.
The team remains inconsistent, somehow losing by multiple goals to the still-building Montreal Canadiens and a (supposedly) weaker Philadelphia Flyers. But they have also shut out the Colorado Avalanche and just last night, beat the Toronto Maple Leafs by two goals on the road during the second half of a back-to-back.
Since their overtime win in Game 3 vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Sabres have won their subsequent five games by two goals or more. They have also scored at least four times in five of their previous six outings, and they are, as of Sunday evening, eighth in goals scored.
As I write this, the first full month of the Sabres season will come to a close in just six days, and they are a far cry from the team that dropped their first two games of 2023-24. They remain inconsistent at times, and yes, when they face tougher defenses, the Blue and Gold have often had a tough time finding the net.
Buffalo Sabres numbers have looked better-than-advertised since 0-2-0 start
While it’s still tough to say the high-octane Sabres have returned, Buffalo’s biggest scorers from last season all look like they’re back on form, with Jeff Skinner and Casey Mittelstadt (one of TWO major breakout players in 2022-23) leading the way with 11 points in 12 games. But Tage Thompson (10 points) has been hot since the Sabres 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators on most nights.
And with 10 points in 12 outings, Rasmus Dahlin is also looking like his old, two-way self again. Alex Tuch (nine points) and JJ Peterka (eight points) are also showing promise, and you can say the same for Dylan Cozens and Owen Power (seven points each).
Three weeks ago, this team looked like it was struggling to rediscover their fun, high-scoring identity. But now that the season is in full-stride, they are looking, most of the time, like that team who can put up four or more goals on opponents quickly and force them to keep pace.
And best yet, this defense has improved, the goaltending has shown more flashes, and the penalty kill has been outstanding. More work, as always, still needs to be done, but heading into Week 4, you should be feeling way better about this team than you may have after they scored three goals and allowed eight in those first two games.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)