The Buffalo Sabres: What Happened to Them?

Andrew MasonCorrespondent INovember 5, 2016

What in the world happened to the Buffalo Sabres?

Eight Days ago they were 9-3-3 and leading the division with 21 points.  Now they are 9-6-3 and sitting third behind Boston, who are now 1-2 against and Montreal.

Eight Days ago they had a +11 goal differential.  It appeared that the players have bought into Lindy Ruff's method of two way hockey. 

Three games later their goal differential for the season is ZERO.  They have been outscored 18-7 against Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Boston.  Now those three teams are not exactly slouches and have some notables on the offense.

I expect all three of them to make the playoffs but I thought the Sabres were too. This has not been a good measuring stick for Buffalo's defensive play. 

They have clearly regressed to their old style of playing river hockey and trying to win on offense alone but not being two way as Lindy has been preaching.  As only four players are on the positive side of the +/-.  Then there is Max being the worst at -8.

In addition to injuries to certain players, other players (not named Thomas Vanek) have not helped Buffalo's quest at all.  Most notably, my favorite players, Drew Stafford and Derek Roy. Stafford has had just four points in 15 games thus far and has been a healthy scratch a few times.  Roy has put up 12 points so far but is underachieving compared to last year with an abysmal -5. 

Tim Connolly, Jochen Hect, and Paul Gaustad have played in only a handful of games so far due to injuries. Connolly has been doing well with seven points in six games but has only played a third of the Sabres games so far. It is not a good sign for the oft-injured center soon to be a free agent.

The Sabres are 3-4-1 in the month of November compared to 6-2-1 in October.  They have five games left this month against four very good teams; Philadelphia, Boston, Montreal, and Pittsburgh.  They also have the Islanders, who are not very good this year. If they can snap out of this streak and if they can get 7 of the possible 10 points then I will feel a lot more confident about this team's playoff chances. 

However, if this sort of stuff will keep happening then the Sabres will be sellers come March.