3 ways the Sabres can keep surging and earn a spot in the NHL playoffs

The Buffalo Sabres are 16-11-1 since the beginning of January, and they have since climbed back into the wild card race.

Mar 12, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres right wing JJ Peterka (77) celebrates his goal
Mar 12, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing JJ Peterka (77) celebrates his goal / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Play a strong game at 5-on-5 

Despite enjoying a much higher points percentage since the calendar year began, advanced statistics indicate the Sabres aren’t incredibly different from the team that struggled between October and December 2023. Their power play, while better in recent weeks, is still producing at just 16.58 percent, and their penalty kill is also below the NHL average. 

However, their 5-on-5 game boasts a shooting percentage and save percentage hovering near the average, while they are at a solid 51.6 percent in the Corsi. They are also higher than average in overall Corsi For vs. Corsi Against, while their xGF, actual goals for, and actual goals against have all trended in the right direction. 

Their 140 actual goals for deserve more recognition, as the stat line rests 10 goals above the average of 130 following their win over Detroit. Only their xGA is below average, albeit slightly. They haven’t fared as well in the high-danger chances category, but they are at 50.1 percent in overall scoring chances for. 

Playing at 5-on-5 has been this team’s strength this season, even if it's roughly toward the league average in even their best categories. However, if the Sabres can boost their 5-on-5 game just a notch, it will go a long way throughout these last 16 games.

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