The Buffalo Sabres are gearing up for their last few games before they get a small break, and there are quite a few burning questions for the week.
The Buffalo Sabres are still searching for their old high-scoring identity as they head into Week 11, and a pair of five-goal games last week indicate things could be trending in that direction. But, they must get more consistent showing that they can get pucks to the net at least 30 times game in and game out.
This is a week when that can happen, as the Blue and Gold face two teams they beat by multiple goals in the recent past. They are also facing a team in the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have given up 117 goals so far this season. But that’s just one thing to ponder as Buffalo heads into a three-game week before taking a three-day break.
Week 11 brings a few more good questions for the Buffalo Sabres
1 – Will Devon Levi continue dominating in the net for another week?
It’s still hard to believe Devon Levi spent a pair of games in Rochester before he was forced back into action in Buffalo and has been one of the league’s best goaltenders in the net since. And that’s no exaggeration, as since December 7th, Levi’s 1.71 GAA is the fifth-best in the league among goaltenders making at least four starts in that span, and his 0.942 save percentage is the fourth-highest.
Barring injury or illness, Levi should get a pair of starts in Week 11 while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen gets the other. If Levi can continue to dominate the way he has since the seventh, then there isn’t a team on the upcoming schedule the Buffalo Sabres can’t beat.
2 – Will the Sabres put together three straight solid offensive performances?
That old high-octane group that we saw last year keeps showing flashes, but when it does, it also reverts to the stagnant bunch we have seen way too many times throughout the first 10 weeks. In games the Sabres won last week, they outscored opponents 10-4, but in losses, opponents outscored them 7-1.
Do the math, and they evened out at 11-11 in goals for vs. goals against, so we still, even 11 weeks into the season, have no idea who the Sabres are. However, with all the injured players yet to return like Jeff Skinner, Jordan Greenway, Zemgus Girgensons, and Jack Quinn, maybe that high-octane approach won’t ultimately come back until the team gets completely healthy.
3 – Will the Sabres take advantage of the more than manageable schedule?
If there is ever an opportunity for the Buffalo Sabres to get back on track and string together not two, but three straight wins, it’s this week. They should crush the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have given up the second-highest number of goals total in the league. And the Blue and Gold outscored the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers 11-5 in their last two combined meetings.
The Sabres should skate into KeyBank Center with confidence on the 19th and the 21st, before they journey across the state to face the Rangers before the three-day break. If they can take advantage and claw their way back to 0.500 (again), it should serve as a major confidence booster as the second half of the season nears.
(Information and statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)