The Buffalo Sabres desperately need a win, and they are also embarking on a road trip, something Alex Tuch sounds excited for.
The Buffalo Sabres played well on the road last season, particularly against the West. Despite missing the playoffs, their overall road record was also one of the best in franchise history, so it’s easy to see why Alex Tuch is pumped to return to the ice in a road arena.
If you can describe Tuch’s quip in a single word, you can use the term camaraderie, as it will jump right off the page when you read the following:
"“… That team camaraderie and having a lot of fun on the road is something that I think we’ve missed this year. It’s been a lot of one-day road trips, and it’s been tough just going up for a game and coming back. You don’t find that rhythm. You don’t have that fun of going to dinner, practicing, a bunch of guys like to go shopping. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it together.“Here it’s tough when you have your families and significant others. That’s not bad by any means, believe me, but it is a little bit different and it’s something that a team as young as we are can really benefit from.”"
Source: Practice Report | Tuch returns to practice, could play Friday in Winnipeg by Katelyn Kardaman, NHL.com/Sabres
See, now we know why the Sabres played so well on the road last year, and although we’re one month into the 2023-24 season, the NHL didn’t give the Blue and Gold the luxury of an actual road trip until, well, today. Between now and the end of the month, the Sabres have seven remaining games, and six of them will be on the road.
Perhaps this is the jolt the team needs if they want to finally dig their way out of what has been a series of tough early-season outings where just about everything has gone wrong, from stagnant play in all three areas of the ice to injuries. And while the Sabres have yet to experience an extended road trip this year, most road games they have played in delivered rather encouraging results.
Buffalo Sabres have played slightly better on the road than at home in 2023-24
Despite the team’s 7-8-1 record, they have still fared better in away games than at home. As it stands, Buffalo is 3-3-1 in opponents’ arenas, and 4-5-0 at home. However, they scored 25 of their 46 goals in road games, including four games in which they scored four goals or more.
As Tuch said in the above quote, the Buffalo Sabres have also not had a chance to enjoy an extended road trip, with two-game trips serving as the maximum so far this season. However, in those back-to-back road games, the Sabres have outscored opponents 18-16 with a 2-1-1 record. While this record is by no means remarkable and the sample size is rather small, it’s nonetheless an encouraging one.
While their last road game before tonight’s matchup against the Winnipeg Jets ended in a 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s also worth noting that the Blue and Gold were on the second half of a back-to-back. With a couple of days’ rest between games, we’ll see if that “camaraderie” (and uncountable noun) that Tuch used leads to another tally in the win column tonight.
Further, it looks like Tuch will be ready to join in the fun, as he practiced on the first line yesterday. His return couldn’t come a moment too soon with Tage Thompson out for the foreseeable future with a wrist injury. We will see if Tuch has it in him to lead the charge against the Jets tonight and give the Buffalo Sabres much-needed momentum during the early phase of their first extended road trip of the year.
Just like the Goatheads have brought some good fortune vs. every team except for the Philadelphia Flyers, road trips have shined a positive light onto the Buffalo Sabres. Even against a tough team like the Jets, it wouldn’t be entirely wise to count the Blue and Gold out of this one – since at this point, mainly the Seattle Kraken have given the Sabres massive issues on the road.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)