The Buffalo Sabres are facing three talented teams this week, and each will require a different strategy to secure wins in Week 7.
With such a potentially rough slate for Week 7 looming, the Buffalo Sabres have no choice but to play these next few games with an edge they didn’t show in Week 6 and rise to the level of their competition. Fortunately for the Blue and Gold, there are several strategies they can employ between Wednesday and Saturday.
But since they are facing three distinct teams, these plans of action look remarkably different from their first game on the slate against the Washington Capitals to their Week 7 finale in New Jersey. In Washington, they will see solid defense, while they will face a team that just crushed them earlier in the month on Friday, before they play someone whose defense has been barely hanging on.
3 strategies that would serve the Buffalo Sabres well in Week 7
1 – Play Washington the same way they played the third period in Winnipeg
The Capitals have some strong goaltending, and the Sabres are shorthanded in the scoring department with Tage Thompson and Jack Quinn still out. But there is a solution to this that they unhatched during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets: Show a physical edge, and crowd the net.
The Sabres, down 3-1 at one point in the game, scored early in the third thanks to a goal from the red-hot JJ Peterka. It put them within striking distance of tying the game and leaving Manitoba with a point, and they nearly scored in the closing seconds. If Buffalo emulates that third period for 60 minutes tomorrow, perhaps they escape Washington with a pair of points.
2 – Limit Pittsburgh’s scoring chances
I outlined one strategy in yesterday’s burning questions post, which involved setting an early tone. But the Sabres also can’t let the Penguins match that intensity, as when Pittsburgh gets going, well, you saw what happened back on the 11th: They will create, create, and create some more.
That evening, despite the 4-0 loss, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen had a great game, even if he missed a couple that he should have saved. But when you face 39 shots on goal against an experienced team like Pittsburgh, they will find ways to score. By limiting those chances this week, the Sabres will keep this game close.
3 – Overwhelm the Devils in front of the crease
Jack Hughes is back, meaning the New Jersey Devils will likely score the same way they have since before he went down with an injury. However, Timo Meier missed a game, so the jury is out on him as of Tuesday morning, and Nico Hischier is returning this week, so the chemistry for this Devils team may still be working back into a rhythm come Saturday.
Defensively, Jersey hasn’t looked great, and losing Hischier (who finished second for the Selke last season) was a big part of it. If Hischier is rusty this week, it could foreshadow more trouble for the Devils when they are in their own zone. To that degree, the Buffalo Sabres must overwhelm them in front of the crease and score some goals.
(Information provided by Hockey-Reference)