After back-to-back victories against the Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings, the Buffalo Sabres came up short against the New Jersey Devils. Despite outshooting the Devils in this recent contest, the Sabres were kept off the score sheet by New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider.
Through 32 games, the Sabres have a record of 13-16-3 which is the 27th best record in the NHL. Buffalo is currently seven points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres desperately need to string together some wins to get back into hunt for a playoff berth.
The Anaheim Ducks’ 2015-16 season has been a disappointing one so far to say the least. After ranking as the Western Conference’s best team just a season ago, the Ducks currently have the worst record in the Western Conference. The Sabres look to bounce back from their recent loss when they face the Ducks at the First Niagara Center on Thursday evening.
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Buffalo’s Recent Struggles Against the Ducks
Buffalo will be seeking revenge in their upcoming tilt against the Ducks. The Sabres were in rebuilding mode during the past two seasons and Anaheim took full advantage of this situation. Buffalo’s last win against the Ducks was a 2-0 victory back in February 2012. The Sabres will attempt to put an end to their losing streak against Anaheim on Thursday evening.
Due to the lockout shortened season, the Sabres did not play the Ducks during the 2012-13 regular season. Since then, Anaheim has a 4-0-0 record against Buffalo and won these games in convincing fashion. The Ducks have outscored the Sabres in their last four games by a 21-7 margin.
A major reason for Anaheim’s dominance over the Sabres is the offensive production the Ducks have received from their star players. In his last four games against Buffalo, Ryan Getzlaf has four goals and 10 points. Meanwhile, Corey Perry has tallied six goals and eight points during this span.
Keys for Buffalo in Thursday’s Match
The tables have turned for Anaheim and the club has struggled to light the lamp so far this season. Through 29 games, the Ducks have scored just 56 goals which is the least amount of any team in the NHL. Some of this can be pinned on Anaheim’s power play which has converted on only 17.3% of their opportunities ranking 23rd in the NHL.
Despite Anaheim’s struggles with goal scoring, there is still plenty of offensive talent on the Ducks’ roster that could erupt at any time. Buffalo will need to find ways to limit Anaheim’s scoring chances by containing Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Perry leads Anaheim with 10 goals and 19 points so far this season while Getzlaf has one goal and 18 points.
While goal scoring has been an issue, the Ducks have been successful at keeping the puck out of their own net. Anaheim has allowed 72 goals which is the ninth lowest amount of goals allowed in the NHL. According to the Official Website of the Anaheim Ducks, Frederik Andersen has a 2.56 GAA and .913 save percentage in 17 games while John Gibson has a 1.74 GAA and .934 save percentage in eight appearances.
Buffalo needs to make the most of their scoring opportunities and show improvement on the power play. In their last three games, the Sabres have scored just one goal on nine opportunities with the man advantage. Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly has been an important component of Buffalo’s power play unit this season. Thirteen of O’Reilly’s 28 total points have been scored with the man advantage and he leads the Sabres with five power play goals.
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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