Through 14 games in the lockout-shortened NHL season, the Buffalo Sabres sit at 5-8-1. That record is good for just 11 points and a last-place standing in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo already trails the division leading-Bruins by seven points, and a loss on home ice tonight could put them in some very hot water.
There have been various reasons for the Sabres’ struggles so far, however it is tough to pick the No.1 issue.
Any time a team is struggling, the head coach is usually the first to end up on the hot seat. Already Lindy Ruff knows that the pressure is on. Since winning the Northeast Division title in 2009-10, Buffalo has played sub-.500 hockey and made the playoffs just once, where they were bounced by Philadelphia.
Ruff has not been the only Sabre who has taken criticism, though. Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers have both struggled mightily for Buffalo. Myers has been a healthy scratch for two games this season and is an abysmal minus-9 in the 12 games he has played. Myers’ struggles have allowed the Sabres to give up 3.4 goals per game, and on the other end of the ice Stafford has not been much better. Buffalo’s alternate captain has no goals through 14 games and has tallied just five assists so far.
Another issue for the Sabres — familiar to Boston fans — is the team’s struggles on the power play. Buffalo is converting on the man advantage just 13.5 percent of the time, good for just 26th in the NHL. Bruins fans can laugh at Boston’s power play struggles with an 8-1-2 record. However, since the Sabres are in last place, it’s not quite as funny to them.
Finally, home ice in the NHL must be protected, yet the Sabres are simply not a very good team at home. Through six games at the First Niagara Center, Buffalo is just 2-3-1. They have only gotten five points out of a possible 12, which is not very good. If the Sabres are to turn it around, they are going to have to start getting points in their friendly confines.