|Buffalo Sabres (16-13-5, 37 points): Buffalo Sabres||Buffalo has been one of the more even-keeled teams in the Northeast Division, this season, maintaining a fairly consistent record. While three games over .500 is certainly not the ideal record, the Sabres have kept themselves in a position where, if they continue to play consistently strong hockey, they should be right in the thick of things when it comes down to crunch time. >|
Offensively, the Sabres are a very well-balanced team. Aside from Maxim Afinogenov’s uncharacteristically slow start, the rest of the Sabres are performing admirable. Thomas Vanek (24-6-30) is currently the NHL’s second leading goal scorer, and Derek Roy’s 19 assists are certainly a factor in that. The rest of the team has been surprisingly productive, with 10 of Buffalo’s forwards on pace for 30+ point seasons.
Across the board, the Sabres have been relatively mediocre, while managing to maintain a winning record. They don’t give up a terribly high amount of goals, and they score enough to get by. In a Northeast Divison which holds both the struggling Maple Leafs and the abysmal Senators, a mediocre defense and a balanced offense has been enough to survive.
Of course, none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the play of star goaltender Ryan Miller in between the pipes. Miller is currently ranked 5th in the league in wins, and has won 14 of 28 starts, while making nearly 800 saves. Backup Patrick Lalime has been less than satisfactory, winning only 2 of his 8 starts. As Miller goes, so go the Sabres.
Current League Rankings
Goals - 15th Goals Against - 15th Powerplay Goals - T-12th Powerplay Percentage - 13th Shorthanded Goals - T-5th Penalty kill percentage - 3rd