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How good is this Sabres team?

Earlier winning streak proving to be deceitful

For the first time in recent years, Sabres fans enter the month of January and aren’t focused on how many points their team is out of a playoff spot. Instead, they see Buffalo in a Wild Card spot.

But for how long?

Just after Thanksgiving, the Sabres found themselves leading the entire NHL with a 17-6-2 record after a thrilling 10-game winning streak. 

Chants of “We want 10!” roared through KeyBank Center during a game against the San Jose Sharks, a game in which Buffalo went on to win with Jeff Skinner’s overtime goal.

It was the type of hockey that rejuvenated the team and had fans believing that playoffs in 2019 could finally be a real possibility. 

After rattling off those 10 straight wins, however, the Sabres have cooled off considerably. Some of that may have been expected, but with just four victories in the past 15 games, Buffalo is slipping in the standings

The one-goal games they were winning, the overtimes, the shootouts – they’ve all stopped going their way. 

As exciting as that winning streak was, it may not accurately resemble how good this team is overall. 

The Sabres have scored 115 goals, but also have allowed 115. They’ve relied heavily on their top line and have received great goaltending from Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark. 

#Top ScorersGPGoalsAssistsPoints
9Jack Eichel44163551
53Jeff Skinner47301444
23Sam Reinhart47103343
55Rasmus Ristolainen4752429
26Rasmus Dahlin4752126

The lack of secondary scoring has proved to be a problem already, but may remain one of Buffalo’s biggest issues this season going forward. Players like Conor Sheary (14 points in 36 games) Jason Pominville (18 points in 35 games) to name a few, are simply not contributing enough offensively. 

If the top line becomes shut down more frequently, the Sabres don’t have the depth to win on a consistent basis.

The halfway mark of the season is later this week, and the true identity of this Sabres team is still unknown. Is this a team that can get back to winning and finish in a top three division spot? Or is this a team that is going to be fighting for a Wild Cart spot in March and then fizzle out?

Either way, there is a bigger need to start winning, and head coach Phil Housley has to make sure they do just that.

The Sabres have dropped their last three games and have a five-game road trip coming up, which will be interrupted by the All-Star break. Following with that, they’ll be home for seven straight games in February. 

 

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NHL Standings

TEAMGPRECPTS
Atlantic Division Leaders:
4937-10-276
4829-17-260
4927-17-559
Metropolitan Division Leaders:
4829-15-462
4828-17-359
4827-16-559
Wild Card leaders:
5027-18-559
4826-16-658
-----------------------------------------
4824-18-654
4823-20-551
4821-20-749
4719-20-846
4819-23-644
4818-23-743
4919-25-543
5018-25-743
TEAMGPRECPTS
Central Division Leaders:
4831-15-264
5028-18-460
4822-18-852
Pacific Division Leaders:
5032-13-569
5028-15-763
5029-17-462
Wild Card leaders:
4924-21-452
5023-21-652
-----------------------------------------
4824-21-351
5021-20-951
4923-23-349
4822-22-448
4721-21-547
5017-24-943
4919-26-442