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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Loss of team identity 

While defense and goaltending were problems that needed to be fixed in 2022-23, this didn’t need to happen at the expense of what was an exciting unit that caught the league off-guard. The Sabres developed an identity that year, and six months after they finished third in the league with 296 goals scored, everyone waited for an encore. 

Except that encore came in the form of just 216 goals after 72 contests or 3.00 goals per game. Adjust that number to 82 outings, and you get 246 goals, which is just 14 more than the 2021-22 team scored. 

The Sabres only needed to continue to play with a style that let them overachieve last season, and they would probably be on pace to at least win half their games again. Given how weak the Eastern Conference is, their chances of snagging the second wild card spot probably would have been there until the final games, if not the last game, of the season. 

The remedy here is simple: Go back to what made you one of the league’s most exciting teams for the 2024-25 season. Now that we know Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is a much better-than-advertised goaltender, chances are, returning to that pace won’t result in another 300 goals allowed.