Still trying to get a handle on this season’s Buffalo Sabres team? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Every time you think the Buffalo Sabres are on a roll, they slump, and vice versa. Attempting to figure out this team has become nigh on impossible.
Actually, that isn’t entirely true. The best way to sum up the Sabres is that they are consistently inconsistent, but this still equates to being tough to figure out.
The latest such example came on Tuesesday night, in arguably their most exciting game of the season to date. The Sabres entered the game as underdogs, against a San Jose Sharks’ team riding high in the Western Conference, with an excellent road record and one season removed from a Stanley Cup final appearance.
And so of course, in keeping with the narrative for this article, Buffalo scored first through Matt Moulson. Just like that, they had a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
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“Normal” service was resumed soon enough, as the Sharks responded with four straight goals. With 11 minutes remaining in the final period, the Sabres looked destined to lose.
However, Dan Bylsma‘s men then somehow, some way, managed to turn it on, with a three-goal blitz in a magical 3:28 spell. Once the game went to overtime, there was only ever going to be one winner — à la Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday — and Evander Kane duly obliged, with his second goal of the evening.
Even with 24 hours to reflect on the events which took place at KeyBank Center, it all still has a slightly surreal feel to it. However, there are at least a couple of factors to consider, that suggest we shouldn’t have been quite so surprised by the final outcome.
The first comes down to the Sabres’ recent form on home ice. Entering Tuesday night’s game, there had a record of 5-0-1 in their last six games in Buffalo.
And it’s not like the wins were all against poor opponents, with three of the games coming versus teams currently in playoff spots. (New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators and Philadelphia Flyers.) Throw in the the Sharks win, and it appears the Sabres have finally found a way to make the most of playing at home.
The second factor comes down to the Sharks themselves. Sometimes you just have a hold over certain opponents.
That certainly seems to be the case between these two teams, with Buffalo holding a 13-3-1 advantage in the all-time series against San Jose. This includes an astounding 10-1-0 record in the last 11 games, dating back to February 2010.
Given the significant difference in the success of the two franchises since then, this makes the Sabres’ record difficult to fathom. San Jose has qualified for the playoffs six out of seven seasons, and made three trips to the Conference finals.
Meanwhile, the Sabres have qualified just twice over the same period, both times being knocked out in the first round. And let’s not forget they’re currently on a five-season drought of no playoff action.
Just don’t ask Buffalo to explain why they are consistently successful against one of the top teams in the NHL, but can’t replicate this against other, less talented opponents. Much like this writer attempting to figure out the current team, it’s hard to explain.
What’s your take on this season’s Sabres’ team? Do you find their ability to beat the top teams encouraging, or are you more concerned by their overall inconsistency? Share your thoughts in the comments section.