Patience is a virtue in Buffalo’s rebuild

BawqfgyCQAAJM-HIn a season of uncertainty for many of the Sabres players, fans have seen their team hit rock bottom during in the midst of a rebuilding phase. With 14 points, Buffalo is last in the league and seven points behind the 29th placed New York Islanders.

Back during the 2006-07 season, the Sabres’ slogan was “One Team. One Goal.” That team put up over 300 goals and actually had a chance at reaching its’ “one goal.”

Seven years later, almost everyone from that team is gone, and so is the goal scoring. The Sabres have become a team that could use that same slogan in a much different, more literal way – “One Team. One Goal (per game).”

After 30 games of play, the Sabres have put up a league low 48 goals, and have scored one goal or less 15 times, being shutout in five of them.

The goal-scoring woes are noticeable and the losses are piling up because of it. What’s even more alarming is the fact that the Sabres are on pace for a franchise and NHL worst goal total of just 132. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lead the league with 112 goals,

To put that into perspective, during the shortened season in 1994-95, the Sabres scored 130 goals in 48 games. Buffalo is ranked 30th in the league with 1.6 goals per game. The next lowest team is Philadelphia, but they are still averaging 2.17.

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The Sabres have scored one goal or less in 15 of their 30 games this season, and have been shutout in five of them.

It’s easy to sit back and say that the Sabres need to start scoring more, and start shooting the puck more as well, but that’s exactly the problem the team has. They are averaging just over 25 shots per game (29th in league), and allowing 34.4 per game (28th in league).

While the amount of shots may not correlate directly with goals in every case, they have been a big reason why opponents have been scoring more often. Ryan Miller may be carrying a 5-16 record with a 3.05 GAA, but his save percentage is at .917, which is just higher than what he has put up in the past few years.

Buffalo has only outshot its opponents five times this season, and even then, the Sabres are 1-4 in those contests.

Cody Hodgson is the only Sabres players on pace to reach the 20 goal plateau. You can also throw Matt Moulson into that category, but only four of his 10 goals are with Buffalo. The other six he recorded with the Islanders before the trade.

The rebuild is going to take time, and while not trying to dwell on the negatives, fans shouldn’t expect to see much improvement on the offensive side of things.

Ryan Miller ranks 4th in shots against this season, and has played fewer games than the three goaltenders in front of him.
Ryan Miller ranks 4th in shots against this season, and has played fewer games than the three goaltenders in front of him.

The Sabres have been playing better and making smarter plays, and the goals per game may increase, but this could very well be Buffalo’s worst goal scoring year.

This season has been tough to watch, but the changes have been made and there is hope once again in Buffalo. Zemgus Girgensons’ goal against Montreal on Saturday night gave fans a preview of what some could expect in the future. The Sabres have many young prospects on the rise, but they still need time to develop.

Over the past five games, the Sabres have been putting together better efforts and have been competing more. Ted Nolan has helped get some of the players back on the right track and is it illustrated by the on ice performances. Although they only have three points in their past five games, the Sabres look to be playing better hockey as of late. As long as we are able to see signs of improvement, that’s all we can hope for throughout this season.

In a time of change and restoration, patience is a virtue.

Kevin Freiheit
Kevin Freiheit
I founded Buffalo Hockey Central in 2008 and have poured hours and hours into this site. Luckily, we have a great team of writers and designers who have helped keep this up and running despite a ton of out-of-pocket costs. We do this because we enjoy it, and we're desperate to see the Sabres win the Cup someday, but they have to make the playoffs first.
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