It’s hard not to raise an eyebrow when you look at some of the numbers behind the two drastically different outcomes between the Sabres-Ducks matchups this season.
Back on December 17th, 2015, the Sabres shut out the Ducks 3-0 inside First Niagara Center, where Chad Johnson foiled a staggering 44 shots where three different Sabres (Evander Kane, Jake McCabe, and Jamie McGinn) put their team on the scoreboard.
Last night, the Sabres were completely stifled as they were shut out 1-0 by the Ducks, who were defending their own home ice in Anaheim, California.
Maybe the result wasn’t so shocking for anyone else kept track of the teams’ performances since their December 17th meeting. Since then, the Sabres have been about what you would expect from this season, a very young, inexperienced team that’s only starting to develop chemistry throughout their lineup; including the loss last night, they’ve gone 10-14-4, never winning more than two games in a row, and once enduring a six-game losing streak where they couldn’t collect a single point.
The Anaheim Ducks have done things about as different as the outcomes between their two games against Buffalo this season. The Ducks turned things on a dime after that 3-0 shutout two months, going 21-5-3. Their win last night over Buffalo was their sixth in a row; they’re an outstanding 13-1-1 in their last 15 contests, their two red marks coming in a regulation loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a shootout loss to the Columbus Bluejackets.
Maybe last night’s trip to Anaheim could have been brighter for Buffalo with Ryan O’Reilly in the lineup. On a team this green, it’s impossible for the loss of a player in his seventh year and leading the team in points to have no ramifications. O’Reilly may have been in a goal-scoring drought before he went down on Sunday, but he was still setting up his teammates time and time again to find the back of the net; he still sits atop the rest of the roster in assists with 32. The power play may be doomed for a decline while he’s on the shelf, seeing as how 20 of the 49 points he contributed prior to his injury came on the man-advantage.
At the same time, he’s a single player on a roster that we know has plenty of talent and offensive potential. Last night’s mirror-image of Buffalo’s thumping of Anaheim in December is more than likely an emphatic statement that Anaheim is an established powerhouse that can shake off terrible starts to the season, and Buffalo is still working its way to becoming one.