Last night, we talked about how the Buffalo Sabres showed little urgency despite attaining 40-plus shots on net for the second game in a row. Overall, they had 98 shots on goal this past weekend, with just four goals to show for it, and much of it came from failing to generate multiple chances and wreaking havoc around the net.
So the obvious New Year’s Resolution is for the Blue and Gold to show us urgency game in and game out, since as 2023 has now officially faded into 2024, they will need it. But given how dysfunctional the Sabres have been through the first 38 games of the year, there are three more major resolutions they must make for the calendar year.
3 New Year’s Resolutions for the Buffalo Sabres in 2024
1 - At least fix the power play
In the last three games against the Boston Bruins, the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Ottawa Senators, I didn’t even need to watch the power play, because I already knew what was going to happen. The Sabres were either going to lose the faceoff or if they won the faceoff, they would lose control of the puck, and their opponent would then clear it down the ice. At which point, the Sabres might generate a shot, or they would just lose possession of the puck again.
Whenever your fans know exactly what’s going to happen on almost every single power play, that’s bad. Before anything else, they need to fix their woes on the man advantage and at least start converting 20 percent of them from now until April, but it’s up to them to take a stand.
2 - These defensive breakdowns are getting old
In the Sabres loss to the Ottawa Senators, they allowed just five shots on goal in the second period, yet they gave up two goals. In both instances, they were caught puck watching, prompting little if any resistance against the Senators as they carried the puck to generate a good look and eventual goal.
The same thing occurred in the first stanza, and the Blue and Gold seemingly suffered defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown. Similar instances have happened far too many times this season, both at even strength and on the penalty kill. Case in point - the Sabres need to keep their feet moving and start putting consistent pressure on the puck carrier when or even before they enter the Blue and Gold’s zone.
3 - Find ways to get consistent following a win
We’re in 2024, and that means we’re also entering Week 13 of the season, which is the official halfway point. Even if some of us saw some regression coming if we felt the Buffalo Sabres overachieved last year, it would be hard to find a single fan who predicted just one two-game winning streak by January 1st, 2024.
It’s time for the Sabres to stop looking like such a dysfunctional unit following a win and at the absolute least play respectable hockey. Throughout December, opponents outscored the Sabres 19 to 7 in the games following a Blue and Gold win. Buffalo hasn’t just played bad hockey after winning a game this past month; they have played abysmal hockey.
(Statistics and information provided by Hockey-Reference)