3 ways the Buffalo Sabres can shake things up for the rest of 2023-24

The Buffalo Sabres need stability, but after losing to a team that won just six games since November 2023, they also need to make some changes.

Jan 23, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) skates with the
Jan 23, 2024; Anaheim, California, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Tage Thompson (72) skates with the / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If the Buffalo Sabres are looking to make things interesting and to create a spark, one thing they don’t need is to fire head coach Don Granato. Had the Blue and Gold displayed a better track record in the past of firing head coaches before they even completed their third full season with the team, maybe it would be a better idea.

But there’s no reason to believe firing Granato would turn this team into the Edmonton Oilers. Edmonton is an older and more experienced team that has been to the playoffs quite a few times lately; the Sabres are the exact opposite. So with that established, let’s look at three ways the Sabres can make things interesting without repeating one mistake they have made over the past decade.

3 ways the Buffalo Sabres can make the rest of the season interesting

1 - Shuffle the lineups and pairings

What the Buffalo Sabres have going on right now, particularly the top line, is no longer working and it reached a new low last night. Therefore there is no reason to keep the current lines and pairings as is, especially at forward. 

Zach Benson looked like a great fit alongside Tage and Tuch when Jeff Skinner was hurt, and he doesn’t often wait around for the perfect shot or overpass often. Put him there, drop Skinner to the Mittelstadt line where he can also play alongside JJ Peterka, who isn’t afraid to drive the puck up the wing, and start improving this lackluster approach offensively. 

Try something different on the pairings, perhaps pairing Ryan Johnson with Rasmus Dahlin, or Mattias Samuelsson with Owen Power. If everything remains as is, there is no reason to expect different results moving ahead. 

2 - Recall Jiri Kulich or Isak Rosen (or both)

I’ve been on the Jiri Kulich bandwagon for a while, and in a recent piece, I endorsed a couple of potential trades to free up space for him to join the lineup. Right now, we’re in that why not phase, especially given his dominance all season regardless of whether he’s playing in the AHL or an international tournament. 

He’s also enjoyed fine chemistry with Isak Rosen, so if there’s room, bring them both up and let the duo play out the rest of the year in Buffalo. At this point, what the Sabres currently have isn’t working, so there’s no reason to keep one or both NHL-ready prospects in Rochester all season while hanging onto veterans who provide little value heading into next season.

3 - Play with nothing to lose

One reason the Ducks beat the Sabres last night is because one team knew that by this point they have nothing to lose, so why not go all out? Last year, the Blue and Gold played their game with such a fast-paced approach, and while they didn’t always fare well defensively, the style worked. 

What’s been going on this season for the Buffalo Sabres shying away from that has led them to their abysmal 20-23-4 record. There are 35 games left in this trying season, so it won’t hurt to develop a rather “reckless abandon” game from now until the season finale.