Buffalo Sabres must find a way to put more pucks in the net tonight

Tonight marks the final game for the Buffalo Sabres in the calendar year, and they still have yet to rediscover their identity from 2022-23.

Dec 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA;  The Buffalo Sabres celebrate an overtime win against the
Dec 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; The Buffalo Sabres celebrate an overtime win against the / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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For all it’s worth, the Buffalo Sabres are still one of the better teams in the league at scoring goals, albeit barely. Their 110 goals this season puts them at 16th in the NHL, but for a team that was known for scoring often last season, it’s quite the regression. 

And so often, we have seen the Blue and Gold face subpar goaltenders, only to make those netminders fare way better than they ever should. Last night’s win vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets was great, but Daniil Tarasov was also boasting just a 4.39 GAA heading into the contest.

The Blue and Gold managed just three goals on Tarasov, but they also had 42 shots on goal, giving the pedestrian goaltender a 0.929 save percentage. To be fair, they had several shots bounce off the pipes, which technically means they “beat” Tarasov several times, but you don’t score unless the puck finds twine, not the post.

Buffalo Sabres must do a better job converting shots into scores

It was especially frustrating last night because the Sabres had plenty of good looks on Tarasov, and it wasn’t like they were just throwing pucks to the net. Tonight against the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo has yet another golden opportunity to score and to score often, as they are facing a team that has allowed 111 goals, or 3.58 per game. 

Both of their goaltenders have a save percentage of 0.890 or worse, and a GAA of 3.29 or worse. Combined, Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg have a 0.886 save percentage, a 3.53 GAA, one shutout, and a 0.419 quality starts percentage. 

There are no excuses tonight for the Buffalo Sabres in terms of scoring. They know how to get pucks to the net, and they also know how to get good looks. It’s all about finishing the job, and they won’t get much of an easier chance tonight. 

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(Information provided by NHL.com and Hockey-Reference)