The Sabres looked to be on the right path when the month of November started, winning four out of the first five, and making a run toward the top of the Eastern Conference.
Once the defending Champions took a run at Ryan Miller, it all went downhill. Jhonas Enroth has stepped in, but it’s not the goaltending that has been the problem.
Since Miller went down, the Sabres are 2-4-1 heading into December. The Sabres are falling in the standings, but are only five points behind the first place Penguins, who have played one more game than Buffalo.
One discomforting fact is that the Sabres lost against the two worst teams in the league in a one week span. Not only did they lose both games, but Buffalo scored a total of two goals against the Islanders and Blue Jackets combined.
Although the Sabres had nine regulars out of the lineup at one point, they managed to defeat Washington, 5-1. If they can work their way through these injuries, they should have no problem working their way back toward the top when those players come back.
One can only wonder if and when Ville Leino will heat up. He has just six points (2 G, 4 A) through 24 games. Lindy Ruff hasn’t benched him, but how much longer can Leino go like this before he becomes a healthy scratch?
The Sabres have an important month of December ahead of them with 14 games. For divisional games, they will face the Senators three times and the Maple Leafs twice.
If you’re looking for optimism, just remember that the Sabres are playing with injuries, and a number of rookies. Ryan Miller is likely to return this month, along with a few others. This team will be fine.
Something the Sabres still do have is the best road record in the league (along with the Sharks) at 7-3. Also, their power play is ranked 10th and penalty kill is 5th.
The Sabres have some good opportunities to gain on a few teams this month. We’ll have to wait and see if they can take advantage of them.