When Buffalo brought in Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges this offseason, some Sabres fans were optimistic that the team would finish better than they did last year — dead last.
Through the first three games this season, it’s safe to say that this 2014-2015 Sabres team will more than likely finish dead last, or close to it. After these first three games, it might even be safe to say that this team might finish with worse results than last years team.
After three games, the Sabres have been outscored 14-4, and an even scarier stat: Buffalo has been outshot 131-57…in just three games. Granted their first three games were against playoff teams from the previous season, (Columbus, Chicago, and Anaheim) there’s no excuse allowing your opponents to average 43 shots per game. These stats nearly mirror each other from last season. Through the first three games last year, the Sabres were outscored 7-2, and outshot 115-76.
Through their first three games, the Sabres are displaying some of the same traits that led to their last place finish from a year ago.
The biggest trait that sticks out, is the inability to clear the puck out of their own end.
Whether a team dumps and chases, or gets a weak shot on net creating a rebound, the Sabres can’t seem to figure out how to maintain possession of the puck out of their own end. It’s usually an errand pass, a clearing attempt that misses everyone, or a bad turnover that causes a penalty trying to battle for the puck deep in their own end. In yesterday’s game, Buffalo coughed up four penalties in the first period, and were lucky to go into intermission down only one goal, killing off three of the four Anaheim power plays.
The other trait that has been killing the Sabres is the lack of offensive possession. Whenever Buffalo gains the offensive zone, they’ll throw a shot on net and not be able to regain control of the puck. Usually, whenever the Sabres bring it in the opposite end, it’s almost a guarantee that their opponent will clear it out with ease.
I know it’s still incredibly early, and I know there’s 79 games left…but it doesn’t matter. If a team a young as Buffalo’s is surrounding an average of 43 shots per game, and still can’t figure out how to correct the same mistakes they made last year, it’s going to make for an incredibly long season.
It’s safe to say, the Connor McDavid sweepstakes have officially begun.