Buffalo Sabres tough schedule highlights burning questions for Week 7

Nov 19, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) and left wing Victor Olofsson (71) celebrate their win against the Chicago Blackhawks after the game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 19, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (1) and left wing Victor Olofsson (71) celebrate their win against the Chicago Blackhawks after the game at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Buffalo Sabres didn’t put their best game forward this past week, and now, a daunting Week 7 schedule looms for the Blue and Gold.

The Buffalo Sabres have been struggling even when they win games so far this November, as was the case in last night’s victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. But can they step up when the schedule gets tougher, with two teams on the slate they haven’t beaten in quite some time?

It starts with a Washington Capitals team whose defense and goaltending have fueled their recent 5-0-1 surge. And it ends against a New Jersey Devils crew who, while they haven’t played their best hockey over the past week, can still turn things around at any time.

So can the Sabres overcome this tough Week 7 schedule? That depends if they have an answer to the following three burning questions.

3 burning questions for the Buffalo Sabres in Week 7

1 – Can the Sabres find the net against the Capitals?

Charlie Lindgren has been nothing short of lights out for the Capitals, logging a 4-1-0 record, a 0.940 save percentage, and a GAA of 2.01, with a quality starts percentage of 0.800. Unfortunately for the Sabres, they have had a tough time finding twine, having scored three or fewer goals in each game since their 6-4 outburst against Toronto on November 4th.

They will also spend the next few weeks compensating for Tage Thompson’s absence, so the Blue and Gold have their work cut out for them. To score on Washington, the Sabres need their most effective players like Rasmus Dahlin, JJ Peterka, and Alex Tuch to do two things: Get shots on, and crash the net every single time they get a chance.

2 – How will the Sabres avoid making the same mistake vs. Pittsburgh?

The Buffalo Sabres have lost nine games in regulation this season, with their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins being arguably their worst. When the Pens skate into KeyBank Center this week, the Blue and Gold need to set the tone early, as it was something they never established in that loss on November 11th.

Scoring early would be ideal, but if the Sabres take shots in open lanes instead of looking to pass the puck and wait for a perfect play that may never come, it will set a high-energy tone early. But they must also keep it going for all 60-plus minutes. The last thing they need is to come out of the gate flat, and if they do, it will be another long game.

3 – Will the Sabres take advantage of an ailing Devils team?

The New Jersey Devils are 1-4-0 in their last five games, and they have allowed 23 goals in that span, or 4.6 per game. They have also scored 3.2 goals per game, but given how poorly this team has played on defense, this could be the game when the Buffalo Sabres finally hand us a good performance offensively.

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As mentioned or implied in the previous sections, the Blue and Gold just need to shoot the puck when the opportunity is there and stop trying to play highlight-reel hockey. Clearly, the Devils have some serious issues, and the Sabres, despite the injury to Tage, are talented enough to take advantage of them.

(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)