The Buffalo Sabres enter Week 16 facing yet another pair of lesser-talented opponents, one of whom they shut out last week. If they can yield similar results or even earn their first three-game winning streak of the season into the All-Star Break, it will be a massive boost for a team that spent so much time struggling in 2023-24.
So it’s rather easy to once again get bold this week, and you will see more off-the-wall projections below. What do we expect from the Blue and Gold, even if they are rather extreme?
Week 16’s bold predictions for the Buffalo Sabres
1 - Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen once again allows two or fewer goals in each start
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen should start two games while Devon Levi gets his first start in a while.for the back-to-back. Luukkonen, who has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his last four games, strikes again, once again allowing no more than two in each start.
While Luukkonen faced just 15 shots on goal vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning, let’s get bolder here and say the 24-year-old will deal with a total of 60 shots while allowing four goals, good for a 0.933 save percentage. We have been getting ultra-bold regarding the Sabres top goaltender lately, something few thought would even be remotely plausible early in the season.
2 - The Sabres put up five goals on the San Jose Sharks
The Sabres have put up just seven goals in their last four games, including just three vs. the San Jose Sharks. That will change this week, and the Blue and Gold will remind us they can still put up plenty of offense when they choose to.
This particular projection may not be as bold as it looks, however, since Jeff Skinner should be back in time for this one. He practiced the day before the Sabres faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, so there is also a chance he returns for most of or even the entire road trip.
3 - Special teams dominate
Yep, even the power play will be dominant this week, and to be honest, it hasn’t been awful in the first three weeks of the year, converting 20.8 percent of the time, and well above their season average of 14.29 percent. This week, Buffalo stops mishandling the puck and committing turnovers on the man advantage, and they convert 25 percent of their opportunities.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres penalty kill is perfect for another week, shutting out opponents and remaining not only the best they have been in quite some time this season, but in the league as far as the calendar year goes. So far in 2024, the Sabres are 22 for 24 on the PK, resulting in a stellar 91.7 percentage.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference and QuantHockey)