5 monumental setbacks that crushed the Sabres 2023-24 season

The Buffalo Sabres season isn’t officially over, but it would take a 180-degree turnaround for this team to end its playoff drought this year.
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers
Buffalo Sabres v Edmonton Oilers / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages
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Mishandling Devon Levi

Devon Levi put up a better seven-game sample than we initially thought he would give us late last season, and it ended with everyone believing he was the right fit to be the Sabres No. 1 goaltender. While Levi deserved to be the frontrunner for the Blue and Gold’s rotation based on his solid pay and the marginal results from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie, we soon discovered he wasn’t quite ready for the 1A, or No. 1 role. 

Levi’s preseason was so-so, but his first two games should have been all it took to end the three-goaltender rotation before it even started. In losses to the New York Rangers and Islanders to open the season, Levi finished with an 0.881 save percentage, allowing seven goals on 59 shot attempts. 

Instead of sending Levi to Rochester after those first two games, he started the next two contests and didn’t look much better. Meanwhile, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, if you remember correctly, won three of his first four games, posted one shutout, and logged a 0.926 save percentage in that span.

Luukkonen wasn’t overtly consistent as 2023 winded down, but he was still a better option than Levi. It’s possible the Sabres would have won a few more games had they simply assigned Levi to Rochester earlier in the year instead of trying to develop him in Buffalo. The good news is that they eventually put him with the Amerks, and it worked wonders for his development.