Can the Buffalo Sabres find a way to turn their season around?

Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) reacts after his teammate scored a goal during the third period against the San Jose Sharks. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) reacts after his teammate scored a goal during the third period against the San Jose Sharks. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports /

The Buffalo Sabres are currently on a four-game losing streak, with their last loss coming on New Year’s Day, where they fell to the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime.

It has not been a great stretch for the Buffalo Sabres who have lost 11 of their last 13 games to put them at 10-17-6 on the season, good for third-worst in the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres are seven points out a wild card spot as of January 2nd, which does not seem like a huge mountain to climb until looking at how five teams are between them and that final team in. Out of those five teams, three have at least three games in hand over Buffalo, while the other two teams have each played one less game than the Sabres.

With still more than half of the season left, can the Buffalo Sabres turn things around and fight for a playoff spot, or will this recent slide continue down to the bottom of the standings? Looking at their track record and recent play, it looks as though one scenario is much more likely than the other.

How the Buffalo Sabres can turn their season around

In order for the Sabres to turn things around, they must start now, with their next game against the San Jose Sharks. Playing at home against the Sharks is the perfect opportunity to end the losing streak.

This game is especially important when looking at who the Sabres have after San Jose, with a game at home against the Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, and then on the road against a strong Nashville Predators team who are 10-5 at home this season. With a loss at San Jose, the four-game losing streak can quickly become seven.

The biggest games for the Sabres may come right after the trip to Nashville, as they will have a home and home against the Detroit Red Wings, who currently occupy the second wild-card spot in the conference. With back-to-back wins, Buffalo can gain serious ground in the playoff hunt, but with two losses, they will see their chances of a playoff spot diminish significantly.

In order for them to get out of this hole, they are going to need more guys to step up. There are only three players currently with 20 or more points for the Sabres, with Tage Thompson leading the way with 22 points.

Rasmus Dahlin has 21 points on the season so far but should be expected to produce more in his fourth season in the NHL coming off of being the number one draft pick. He is on pace for 52 points this season, which would be a career-high, but would only be eight more points than his rookie season. In just 59 games in 2019-20, he had 40 points, which is more than he is currently on pace to have in the same number of games.

Another player who definitely has to step up for the Sabres is Jeff Skinner, who has just 18 points. He has been disappointing in Buffalo ever since that amazing first season in 2018-19 where he scored 40 goals. If he is able to put 28 or more in the back of the net like he has done five other times in his career, that would certainly help the Sabres get out of this losing streak.

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Although only 33 games into the season and just seven points out of a playoff spot, the Sabres have to stop the current bleeding and get things back on track if they want to have playoff hopes in 20 games from now. With big games ahead with the Red Wings in a couple of weeks, they better hope they are not on a seven-game losing streak when arriving in Detroit on January 15.