Well, we finally got to the end of this season. I have 4 words to say as the Sabres season comes to a close.
Thank God it’s over.
There’s not many things that went well this season for the Sabres. It’s pretty painful thinking back on it. Let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Buffalo Sabres 2013 season.
All stats I use in this, I obtained from NHL.com.
Let’s get the painful out of the way first.
Mikhail Grigorenko- I won’t harp on this for too long. I promise. This entire situation was mishandled from day 1. A year of his entry level contract was wasted due to ineptitude in the front office of the Buffalo Sabres. He should have been sent to Quebec after 5 games and was not delivering at the NHL level. Instead, he stays in Buffalo, plays with guys who don’t compliment him, and his talent goes to waste only to return to Quebec. Whoever is the next coach (and hopefully GM), will have their work cut out to undo the damage done in the 2013 season.
Defense- Guess what team in the NHL had the highest average amount of shots faced per game? That’s right... BUFFALO!!!! This is not a category you want to have high number in. They allowed an average of 33.5 shots per game. The problem is, a lot of these shots are high caliber shots. The Sabres defense should be pretty good, on paper. Unfortunately, they weren’t in real life and that’s what counts. They struggled to clear the zone, make crisp clean passes, and prevent turnovers. The defense was horrid.
Face-Offs- All I have to say, 2nd worst in the NHL- 46.2% won. Last place was Edmonton at 46.1%. Plus, it always seemed that Buffalo would lose the key face offs in their own end on a nightly basis.
Special Teams- Buffalo had a 14.1% for the power play. 2nd to last in the league. Winnipeg takes the bottom honors. Their penalty kill was better right? Well they were in the bottom five of the NHL. Buffalo’s PK percentage? 79.2%. You don’t win hockey games with that type of play. Special teams can make or break a hockey team. They certainly broke the 2013 Sabres
General Manager Darcy Regier- Read http://betweenthebenches....rgument-for-firing-darcy/
. Also, he completely mishandled the Lindy Ruff firing. You don’t fire a coach after he has practice, does a local charity event, preps for the trip to Toronto, and then fire him right before he leaves. Remember, read the other blog for the other reasons as to why he’s here.
Well, while I could go on, I won’t. let’s go on to...
Offense- Buffalo’s offense wasn’t great, but it certainly wasn’t awful. Buffalo was able to cash in at times and pull off a big win here or there. Look at the win against the Penguins to ruin their win streak. That may be the highlight of the Sabres season for me. Vanek had a decent season too. While there weren’t many big instances where the team managed to score a lot, they did show some bright spots. There may be some promise for the offense in the future.
Physical Play- Buffalo made a point to bulk up in the off season. Then, they misused it. The only player who really met expectations was Steve Ott. He was a thorn in opponents sides (I’ll come back to him later). However, not everyone got on board with the physical play. Part of this led to the poor defensive play (see The Ugly). If the team is going to bulk up, they need to make sure everyone gets on board with the physical play. While at times, they utilized it, there’s an equal amount of times where they failed to rise to the occasion.
Ownership- Pegula refuses to address the situation and talk to the media/fans about the direction of the team. The Sabres are officially done now, having been so since Friday, and he still has yet to say anything. The only reason this is under The Bad, is that Lindy Ruff got fired. That’s the first half. Now, take care of the 2nd half.
Trades- This is a mixed bag. The trades for Leopold, Regher, and Brennan were pretty bad. I mean, the draft picks were ok, but none of them were really standout moves. The Regher trade doesn’t even cash in now. They’re for 2014 and 2015. The only reason I put this in “The Bad” segment, is the Pominville trade. Buffalo robbed Minnesota, getting 2 great prospects, and a 1st round draft pick. They robbed Minnesota. 1 good trade + 2 shaky trades (Regher and Leopold)) + 1 bad trades (Brennan) = The Bad.
Which brings us to
Rochester Amerks- The young players who came up from the farm team really did the job this season. Players like Flynn, Porter, Pysyk, and others really rose to the occasion and made the most out of the opportunities that they had. At the end of the year, it almost seemed as though Pysyk and Pardy (Amerks d-men) were on the ice the most out of the defensemen. There’s a lot of good players in the farm system, and Buffalo has a lot of positives for the future. Plus, in following the Amerks this year (not the one’s in Buffalo) there’s a lot to look forward to. Personally, I’ve been really impressed with the growth of Zemgus Girgensons. You know, that other first round pick that Buffalo had? He’s really grown and matured this year for the Sabres, despite having missed a chunk of the season with an injury. I’d almost rather see him get a chance in Buffalo, rather than Grigorenko at this point.
Steve Ott- Ott delivered this season. He was a joy to watch, and I think that he should be captain next year. He is able to score, but also gets under the skin of his opponents. He flat our irritated opposing players, and threw them off their game. I’m a huge fan of this guy. I feel he can be one of the veterans that this team rebuilds around.
Goaltending- Say what you will about Ryan Miller. While he now has 500 games in the NHL, all with the Sabres, he’s a fantastic goalie. Miller faced the most shots in the NHL this year, and still had a save percentage of .915%. Enroth proved that he is a very capable back up with a .919% save percentage. He is making a case to be a starting goalie in the NHL as well. Buffalo lost 21 games in regulation this year. 10 of these were by 1 goal or less. 6 of them were by 2 goals or less. That covers 16 of their losses. One can argue that the goaltending kept the Sabres in every single game that they played in. Buffalo’s goaltending was simply phenomenal. Unfortunately, the players in front of the Sabres didn’t play well enough to give Miller and Enroth a break.
I can’t really think of anything else to add to The Good. I’m hoping that the Buffalo Sabres start to get shake up as of tomorrow (fingers crossed for Darcy being fired). I’ll end with this final thought on the Sabres season;
At least it was only 48 games.
Follow me on Twitter- @SabresBTB- I’ll be chatting off and on in the off season, focusing on Buffalo Sabres moves. I’ll also pop on and off during the playoffs, and register my thoughts on the games.
As always, Thanks for reading!