Rock bottom-er

The Sabres have hit a new low this season

Howard Simon
April 01, 2019 - 4:42 pm

Photo: Dennis Schneidler - USA TODAY Sports

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Unbelievable.

I was thinking of different words to describe the last four months of the Buffalo Sabres season and I think unbelievable is the best fit.

As a Buffalo sports fan, you've experienced more than your fair share of suffering. How many times have you thought "it can't get worse than this" and sadly it does get worse?  Just when you think you've hit rock bottom, you realize you are still falling.  

When last season came to an end and the Sabres finished with just 62 points, I remember saying it had to be the worst season in franchise history. The 62-point total was just eight better than the tank team but, as opposed to that squad, the 2017-18 Sabres were actually trying to win hockey games.

The 2018-19 edition of the Sabres will end up with more points than last season's team, and yet this club's performance was even worse.

Jack Eichel has a career-high in points. Sam Reinhart has a career high in points. The Sabres traded for Jeff Skinner and he has produced the most goals by a Sabres player since Thomas Vanek netted 40 during the 08-09 season. The Sabres won the lottery and added Rasmus Dahlin who, as an 18-year-old, is averaging 21 minutes of ice time and has 41 points. Dahlin should be a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year.  

All of that has happened, and yet the Sabres have been the worst team in the NHL over the last four months. Here are some of the depressing numbers:

  • 14-32-8 since the 10-game win streak ended (they've earned 33-percent of the 108 points that were available)
  • Losers of seven straight games and 14 of the last 15 games
  • Three wins in the last 23 games (3-17-3), during which they have been outscored 94-47
  • One regulation win in the last 22 games
  • No back-to-back wins since December 11 and 13
  • 14 straight road losses, during which they have been outscored 57-23
  • Four or more goals-against in 13 of the last 16 games
  • Two or fewer goals scored in 15-of-23 games, which includes being shut out five times in the last 12 games

You might remember what happened back in November. The Sabres won 11 games that month, 10 of them came in that wonderful streak. They have a total of 14 wins in the last four months.

So far, the Jason Botterill/Phil Housley era has produced a total of 134 points. That is the third-lowest total in back-to-back full seasons in franchise history. The tank team and the 2013-14 Sabres combined for 106 points. The expansion Sabres and the 1971-72 team had 114 points. 

I have to tell you I was jealous of the New York Islanders fans who were at Saturday night's game on Long Island. The building was packed, the fans were loud and energetic all night and they watched their team clinch a playoff spot. An Islanders franchise that had missed the playoffs the previous two seasons, had just 80 points last season and then lost their best player, John Tavares, in free agency, was back in the postseason. I just kept wondering when we will have that feeling back and why has it been this hard?

Two years ago, the Sabres fired Tim Murray, the general manager who massacred the rebuild and Dan Bylsma, the coach who had lost the team. Those guys left with 159 points in two years. Despite having a better roster now, the Sabres are worse off.  

Like I said, it's unbelievable. 

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