Buffalo Sabres special teams put on their worst performance of the season

We knew the Buffalo Sabres special teams were bad, but nobody saw them being the game-changers that they were tonight.

Dec 27, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres right wing Alex Tuch (89) looks for the loose
Dec 27, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Alex Tuch (89) looks for the loose / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Sabres lost 4-1, and you can blame their inefficacy on the power play and penalty kill for this debacle. Boston scored three of its four goals on the power play. The Bruins also boasted a 100 percent conversion rate on the man advantage until the final minute of the game, when they were awarded a power play, but smartly let the clock run out. 

That said, this game will hit the history books with the Sabres having “killed off” a man advantage attempt, but let’s not fool ourselves. Special teams sunk this team tonight on both ends of the ice.

Had the PK unit stopped just one of those full two-minute power plays, this game would have had a different outcome, assuming the Sabres also managed to score on one of their six power play attempts. They may not have won, but the game would have been a whole lot more interesting. 

Want more fun? The power play pulled off just five measly shots on goal, once again showing us it’s one of the most dysfunctional and least effective in the NHL. 

Buffalo Sabres need to start treating special teams like 5-on-5

This might sound outlandish to some, but at this point, the Blue and Gold need to push the reset button and start somewhere. On the man advantage, it’s time to simply work on getting pucks to the net - you can’t log five shots on six power play attempts, with one of those being a double-minor. 

As for the penalty kill, the Buffalo Sabres need to get more aggressive when the puck lands in their possession. Take it down the ice, and make the opponents chase you - anything but what they tried tonight and even recently will at least show us that they’re making an effort to address the issue. 

Overall, special teams were a huge reason the Sabres lost tonight. No, it wasn’t their best game at even strength, but goaltender Devon Levi saved 18 of 19 when the same number of players were on the ice. Buffalo also ended up getting a solid 26 shots on goal off against Jeremy Swayman, and they did take advantage of a few opportunities that went their way. But until they fix the special teams, we’re going to see more of what we saw tonight. 

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(Statistics provided by NHL.com)