After a 5-2 loss at the hands of their former netminder Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks, the Buffalo Sabres losing streak is nearing historic proportions. The Sabres currently are on a fourteen game losing streak. Through this losing streak, the Sabres have emerged as the front-runner for one of the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Buffalo currently has a 14-33-3 record and the club sits four points behind the Edmonton Oilers in sole possession of last place.
The Sabres’ last win was against the New York Islanders back on December 27th, 2014. To put things into perspective, the last time the Sabres won a game came before the Buffalo Bills defeated the New England Patriots in the last week of the NFL season. It was before the Bills’ former head coach Doug Marrone opted out of his contract and new coach Rex Ryan was hired. We have witnessed some controversial calls in the NFL playoffs and Deflategate since the Sabres’ last win. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA haven’t lost since Buffalo’s last win on December 27, 2014 and are currently on an eighteen game winning streak.
For more perspective outside of sports, Buffalo has not yet won a game since the ball dropped in Times Square and you celebrated the start of 2015 with your family and friends. To put it mildly, even for a team that many predicted would be a poor performer before the regular season began, this losing streak is bad. When the Sabres faceoff against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night Buffalo will be more than a month into 2015 without a win and their current losing streak is nearly on the edge of history.
A Look Back at the Fourteen Game Losing Streak
During their fourteen game losing streak, the Sabres have been outscored by opponents by a sixty-one to twenty-one tally. That’s a goal differential of minus forty for Buffalo for the losing streak and it has contributed to the club’s minus eighty-five goal differential on the season.
Buffalo found success earlier this season by playing close games and minimizing mistakes. Of the Sabres’ fourteen wins this season, six have been earned through the shootout. During their fourteen game losing streak, the Sabres have lost by more than one goal eleven times. Buffalo will need to curb it’s many mental errors and improve it’s defensive game to put an end to this mammoth losing streak.
The Sabres have played a mix of teams throughout the fourteen game losing streak. During this stretch, Buffalo has played seven games against teams that are currently in the playoffs. The club has also played two games against teams just outside of the playoff mix and five other games against teams near the bottom of the NHL standings.
Before this year, the Sabres' longest losing streak was 8 games, set back in 2003. Longest winless streak was 12 set back in 1991 and 2002.
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) January 31, 2015
Buffalo’s biggest loss during this losing stretch came at the hands of the Minnesota Wild who badly beat the Sabres by a 7-0 score. The Sabres also lost by three or more goals to the Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Carolina Hurricanes, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. All told, this has been a dreadful stretch of games for the Sabres and the length of the current losing streak is unprecedented in the history of the franchise.
2014-2015 Sabres Are Making History
The Sabres are in the midst of a rebuild which has made this season and last season very difficult for fans. The club had a historically bad 2013-2014 season. Buffalo finished the year with fifty-two points and a 21-51-10 overall record. The Sabres scored a league-worst one hundred and fifty-seven goals. This was thirty-nine goals behind the Florida Panthers who were in twenty-ninth place in the NHL in goals scored.
The Sabres are currently four points behind the pace set that they set last season. Through fifty games played, the 2013-2014 Sabres had thirty-five points and a 14-29-7 record. Buffalo’s 2013-2014 team was bad, historically bad, but by the end of this season the 2014-2015 team’s record could be even worse. Buffalo’s current losing streak is the longest in franchise history. Whether or not the team’s lackluster pace continues from here on out, the 2014-2015 team has already left a legacy in Sabres’ history.
The Buffalo Sabres did not record a point in all of January. Finished with an 0-12-0 record.
— High Wrap Hockey (@HighWrapHockey) January 31, 2015
Speaking of history, the Sabres current losing streak is putting another record within reach. According to John Grigg from TheHockeyNews.com, the longest consecutive loss streak in NHL history is seventeen games. This record is shared by both the 1992-1993 San Jose Sharks and the 1974-1975 Washington Capitals. Buffalo’s next four games are against the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and New York Islanders. The road ahead for the Sabres will be difficult but they desperately need a win within the next four games to avoid pinning the team to this NHL milestone.
A major reason for the Sabres’ current slide is a lack of offense. The club scored twenty-one goals in the last fourteen games or an average of 1.5 goals per game. There are many reasons for this lack of offense. The offensive production of Drew Stafford and Matt Moulson has fallen off as both have had disappointing seasons. Stafford and Moulson each have just seven goals and have played in forty-five or more of the Sabres’ games this season.
Perhaps the most disappointing forward for the Sabres this season is Cody Hodgson. According to Hockey-Reference.com, Hodgson led the club in scoring last season with twenty goals and forty-four points. Through forty-eight games this season, the forward has two goals, seven points, and was a healthy scratch in the Sabres’ last game against the Canucks – Hodgson’s former club. Buffalo’s forwards will need to pick up their game to break the Sabres free from their fourteen game losing streak.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW