We’re two months into the season and there are still so many questions to be answered for this team. We’ve seen the ups and downs already, but there hasn’t been a stretch of hockey that has defined the 2015-16 Buffalo Sabres.
This team won just once during the first five games of the season. Then at one point they won five of six, but then dropped six straight. Now, on the heels of two convincing 4-1 victories, what will we see next as they make their way to the West coast?
Buffalo has been a frustrating team to watch over the past two years, but not as much this season. There have been times where they show flashes of last year, but you can tell they are progressing. For the most part, they’re more fun to watch now.
As we flip our calendars to December, where do you see this team finishing out? As it stands, the Sabres are just four points from 30th in the league. However, they’re only five points out of that final playoff spot in the East.
It can swing either way as there are four-plus months to go. The Sabres are not a playoff team. I can tell you that. I’m not saying we can’t make the playoffs, but we’re not ready for a seven game series with…well, anyone.
We’re on the right track, though.
So, what do we need to see changed over the course of this season? Well, for one thing, the offense needs to heat up. With players like Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane, the Sabres should be finding plenty of ways to score.
It hasn’t happened until late. Buffalo has scored eight goals in the past two games and that’s something that needs to happen more frequently. Averaging 2.21 goals per game isn’t going to cut it. The players are there to make it happen, but we’ve yet to see it come at a consistent pace.
Even though the scoring isn’t up there, the power play is. With a 21.3 power play percentage, that unit ranks seventh in the NHL. It’s nice to see part of our special teams in the top 10 again. The penalty kill needs work, however.
Since October 23rd, the Sabres have lost by more than a goal just three times in 17 games, nine of which we’re losses. That shows that Buffalo are in these games. They’re not getting blown out every game. The defense and goaltending have kept them in it over and over again. It goes back to the offense, or lack thereof.
Whether it’s Chad Johnson or Linus Ullmark, they’re solid in goal. What is it that this team needs? Is it just time? Is there a position that we look to improve?
Is there going to be a moment where this team will just click?
The talent is there. A new coach and new system is in place. We can see progress being made. It’s time for the next chapter.