The Buffalo Sabres will keep losing until they fix their first period woes

If the Buffalo Sabres want to start winning hockey games, they must improve their play in the first period, which has been abysmal this season.
Dec 27, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) looks to make a pass
Dec 27, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) looks to make a pass / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 Buffalo Sabres are among the most frustrating groups to have taken the ice in recent memory. And yeah, there are plenty of disappointing teams to choose from over this looming 13-year playoff drought, but this is arguably the most deflating of the bunch. 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, as the Sabres were coming off of a year when they just missed a playoff berth and were at their highest point throughout what was a 12-season drought. Instead, they returned in 2023-24 to play more pedestrian hockey than just about the entire fanbase expected. 

Many of those woes were on full display last night, but nothing has hit them harder than their play in the first period. If you want some real numbers on how poorly this team has played in the opening stanza, look no further than the following snippet:

"“They own the league’s worst first-period goal differential (-22), and no team has allowed more goals (42) in the first period this season.”"

Lance Lysowski

Source: Observations: Ineffective special teams the difference in Sabres' loss to Bruins, Buffalo News

Buffalo Sabres have been one the NHL’s worst teams in the first period

The above statistics wouldn’t matter so much if the Sabres managed to be a group of comeback kids this season. They would fall into an early deficit, climb their way out of it, and the numbers, regardless of how bad they would get, would be irrelevant. 

But that’s not the case, as it seems the second the Buffalo Sabres allow an opponent to score, they are bound to allow another goal shortly thereafter. That was the case last night when Buffalo allowed two goals in the game’s first 14 minutes, with those goals occurring roughly 10 minutes apart from one another. 

Overall, it’s been shown time and again that the Blue and Gold can’t play sound hockey when they allow an early goal. If they want to get more consistent in winning hockey games, and they must if they still have plans to play hockey in late April, then they must prioritize playing better hockey in the opening frame. If not, they will keep losing much in the same way they did last night.