Buffalo Sabres head coach reveals the missing ingredient for the team’s lack of success so far in 2023-24

While Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato may be polarizing this season, his theory on this team’s missing ingredient to success may hold true.

Apr 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato talks to his players
Apr 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Don Granato talks to his players / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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What made the Buffalo Sabres start the season 1-10-4 following a win, and 0-6-4 in their last 10 tries in games after securing a victory before they snapped the streak last night? For a team that was supposed to have playoff aspirations, the aforementioned records were sorry ones, but as with anything else involving a lack of success, there were reasons for it.

But what were they, exactly? Did they have something to do with the team getting overconfident, or trying to do too much with the puck? If you check out what head coach Don Granato said following the Sabres win last night over the Pittsburgh Penguins, he provided insight:

""It's a mentality and I've talked about this for weeks now. It's a mojo, swagger and the fact is that we didn't have that and we played with fear. And tonight, you don't come through that game unless you have that swagger and fearlessness.""

Don Granato

Source: Observations: Sabres overcome Pens and finally forge a two-game winning streak by Mike Harrington, Buffalo News

Saturday was one of those nights that saw the Sabres going up against a better and more experienced group that was bound to give them a challenge. And recently, they would have most likely folded in such a competitive game. While you can say the Penguins outplayed the Sabres in just about every portion of the contest except for the final result on the scoreboard, that wasn’t necessarily the case. 

Buffalo Sabres head coach is spot-on about his hockey team

Granato is right - the Buffalo Sabres played with fearlessness last night when you consider the fact that they were the more physical team overall, landing 25 hits to the Penguins 15. And you can add to the fact that they were tenacious on the penalty kill and yes, even on that 5-on-3 when they gave up a goal. 

We know the latter is true because Pittsburgh logged three measly shots on the man advantage, which they found themselves on five times. And finally, the Blue and Gold created some chaos in front of the net on Zemgus Girgensons’ goal, which ultimately proved to be the deciding factor. 

Therefore, Granato was spot on in what he said following the game. His team looked like they were playing not to lose often in games following a win, but that changed last night. Instead, they stepped up, got physical against the Penguins, rebounded for the most part on the penalty kill, and walked away with an ugly, but well-deserved win. 

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(Additional statistics provided by NHL.com)