Originally written on Buffalo Wins  |  Last updated 11/9/14
For more Sabres stats nuggets in 140 characters or less, follow me on Twitter (@SabresStats). This week’s number actually has a couple meanings.  First, it represents the total number of goals that the Sabres have scored in their first 4 games of the year.  That gives them an average goal production of 2.75 goals per game.  Yes, it’s early, but let’s see how that compares to prior seasons.  Goals Per Game NHL Rank 2012-13 2.75 t-14th 2011-12 2.57 17th 2010-11 2.93 9th 2009-10 2.82 t-9th 2008-09 2.95 t-12th 2007-08 3.06 4th 2006-07 3.63 1st 2005-06 3.37 t-5th       As you can see, the Sabres goal scoring has been on a pretty steady decline since they led the NHL in scoring during their Presidents Cup season in 2006-07, but only during one of those seasons did they finish in the bottom half of the league (last year). The other stat that the number 11 represents, in addition to the total team goals, is the number of goals that have been scored with Thomas Vanek on the ice.  That’s right, we are 4 games into the season and the Sabres have not once been able to find a way to score without #26 being on the ice.  Is this a positive stat for Vanek that shows the leadership role that he is taking on?  Does it show the immense talent that he possesses?  Or is it an absolute embarrassment for the rest of the forwards on the team, save his linemates?  To me, it shows the lack of balance that this team suffers from.  If they are going to win games and be in the playoff picture 40 some games from now, they are going to need more from guys like Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis.  We know they have the ability to score.  At the end of last year, the line of Stafford/Ennis/Foligno was the best the Sabres had to offer.  They can turn it around.  They better turn it around. Let’s take a look at each of the goals scored and goals allowed on the young season and who was on the ice for the Sabres at the time. SABRES GOALS             Game # Opponent Goal # On Ice 1 PHI 1 9 63 29 26 10     2 63 21 29 26 10     3 19 63 26 10 57     4 19 26 3 44       5 19 29 26 3 24 2 TOR 1 19 29 26 10 52     2 19 29 26 10 44 3 CAR 1 19 29 26 3 52     2 19 29 26 10 52     3 19 29 26 24 57 4 CAR 1 9 19 29 26 10   GOALS AGAINST               Game # Opponent Goal # On Ice   1 PHI 1 25 29 26 3 44       2 19 29 3 44     2 TOR 1 19 29 24 57     3 CAR 1 19 21 26 3 44       2 9 19 29 26 10       3 19 29 26 10 52       4 63 21 82 24 44       5 19 29 32 3 57       6 19 63 29 26 3 10 4 CAR 1 55 36 24 57         2 63 29 26 3 44       3 19 29 82 44 57       Total On Ice   Goals For Goals Against Thomas Vanek 11 6 Jason Pominville 9 9 Tyler Ennis 3 3 Cody Hodgson 9 8 Marcus Foligno 0 2 Drew Stafford 1 2 Steve Ott 2 1 Patrick Kaleta 0 1 Mikhail Grigorenko 0 1 Jochen Hecht 0 1 Matt Ellis 0 0 Nathan Gerbe 0 0 John Scott 0 1       Christian Ehrhoff 7 3 Tyler Myers 2 4 Alexander Sulzer 3 1 Robyn Regehr 2 3 Andrej Sekera 2 6 Jordan Leopold 3 6       TEAM TOTAL 11 12 What are some of the things that jump out from this analysis?  How about the fact that for 6 straight goals that the Sabres scored, spanning from the last goals against the Flyers through the first came against the Hurricanes, the exact same forward line (Vanek/Hodgson/Pominville) was on the ice?  In fact, the trio has scored 9 of the team’s goals themselves, which each having 3 goals.  Yes, they have averaged the most ice time of any of the forward lines but they haven’t monopolized the ice time.  They have been out there for approximately 1/3 of the game.  The other 2/3s have apparently been lost and completely void of offensive threat. However, for all this praise that we are giving the top line, it’s only fair to point out their defensive deficiencies.  In addition to being on the ice for an impressive 9 of the Sabres goals, Jason Pominville has also been on the ice for 9 of the 12 goals that the opponents have scored.  Pommer has always been known as a strong two way forward.  Maybe he needs to get back to that.  It’s possible that the extra pressure of knowing he and his line are the only chance the Sabres have of scoring a goal is affecting his defensive posturing and he’s becoming lax in his own zone.  Picking up 8 points in 4 games is nice, but I’m sure Lindy expects more defensively out of his captain.  Then there is the so called second line, a line that we expected great things from.  We thought the chemistry that they showed last season was destiny and that these three would make eachother All-Stars.  Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit.  But we sure didn’t expect zero production out of them.  Between Stafford, Ennis, and Foligno they have a grand total of 2 points and ZERO goals.  Drew Stafford has only been on the ice to celebrate one Sabres goal so far.  Marcus Foligno could be jealous of Drew, he hasn’t been on the ice for one single goal scored.  Remember a week ago when we were touting Foligno as a Calder Trophy candidate?  Now he needs to improve just to stay in Buffalo.  I’m sure the Amerks would welcome him back with open arms. On defense, Christian Ehrhoff has been on the ice for more than ½ of the goals scored and only 25% of the goals against.  Andrej Sekera and Jordan Leopold on the other hand have been on the ice for ½ of the goals against.  But there does seem to be more balance on defense than on offense. There is good news from all of this though.  Ryan Miller has been sensational.  He currently has a .952 Save% and a goals against average of 1.67 through 3 appearances.  He’s been called on to make big saves and has delivered.  If the team in front of him can find some balance and get scoring from people not named Vanek, Hodgson, or Pominville, they could right the ship very quickly.  Lindy has already hinted that he will be shuffling lines if something doesn’t change quickly.  Let’s hope they pull it together before he needs to take that measure.  Bury Washington tomorrow with a balanced, disciplined attack and all can be forgotten.    LET’S GO BUFFALO!  

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