3 X-Factors that will make or break the rest of the Sabres season

Each year, there is that underperforming team that is way more talented than its record in the NHL, and the Sabres have been that team for all of 2023-24.

Feb 15, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) skates with the
Feb 15, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) skates with the / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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Special teams have shown flashes but have yet to get it together

Okay, let’s be honest: The Sabres power play has been miserable this year, and that’s putting it lightly. When it’s mid-February and you’re in the bottom-five of the league and converting under 15 percent of your attempts, something isn’t right. But, there have been plenty of games this year when the power play looked like the top-10 unit that they were a season ago. 

Therefore, while they have been horrible for the most part, it doesn’t mean Buffalo hasn’t shown flashes on the man advantage. Ditto for the penalty kill, which has more than once gone for games without allowing a power play goal, and it’s not like the Sabres aren’t prone to committing penalties. 

They have allowed 163 power play opportunities against this season, the 18th-most in the league. Yet still, their PK unit has a serviceable 79.75 success rate, which ranks 17th. 

Given how strong their penalty kill has often looked this season, there have also been times when they have looked anything but in sync. If the strong PK unit we’ve come to know at times this year shows up down the stretch, then once again, the Blue and Gold could make the rest of their 2023-24 season interesting. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference as of February 16th)