The Buffalo Sabres are playing poorly.
Take that statement however you’d like, whether it’s to say they are having a poor season or the fact they are on a seven game losing streak. Though the entire team is to blame for the disastrous season, the fact that arguably the team’s biggest offensive weapon, Matt Moulson, is on pace for the worst season of his career, might hurt the most.
Moulson Missing Long Island?
Moulson has 7 goals and 17 points in 40 games this season and is a minus-15. He is on pace to hit just 13 goals and 33 points, which would be the worst full season total of his career. The 31-year-old has not been his normal-self ever since he made the move out of Long Island.
Back when he was playing alongside John Tavares, the former ninth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins, had three 30-goal seasons. Meanwhile during the 2012-13 lockout shortened season the North York, ON native finished with 44 points in 47 games which was the highest points per game total of his career. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder tallied 118 goals and 223 points in 304 games playing for the Isles.
The downfall of Moulson’s play can be seen more clearly from his trades last season. The left-winger played 11 games with the Islanders before he was sent to the Sabres as a piece in the Thomas Vanek deal. During his first few games with the Isles he put up six goals and nine points, a points per game of 0.82. Mouslon played 44 games with Buffalo putting up 29 points, a points per game of 0.66 and then after being moved to Minnesota at the trade deadline he put up 13 points in 20 games, a points per game of 0.65.
Moulson’s play didn’t fare any better once the Wild entered the playoffs. Though the team was able to get by the Colorado Avalanche, they fell in the second round to the Chicago Blackhawks. In 10 games in the post-season the 2003, 263rd overall pick, had just one goal and three points.
Besides seeing his worst offensive season of his career, Moulson is also having his worst season in terms of possession stats as well. His individual Fenwick per 60 minutes is 8.44 while his individual Corsi per 60 minutes is 10.47, both of which are, again, career lows.
Sabres Also Having Worst Season Ever
On top of Moulson in the midst of his worst season of his career, the Sabres are also on pace for one of theirs as well. The team currently sits in the basement of the Eastern Conference with 31 points through 43 games and only the Edmonton Oilers have fewer at 29.
Buffalo is on pace to finish the season with just 59 points. If they do this, it would be their worst point total in a full season since 1971-72 when the team finished with 51 in 78 games (which at the time was the length of a full NHL season). The team has struggled mightily in the goal scoring department. The Sabres are ranked 30th in the NHL in goals for per game, averaging 1.74 per game. They are the only team in the league averaging less than two goals a game.
The team also has their power play to thank for that. Buffalo’s power play is converting on just 9.2% of their opportunities with the extra skater. The Sabres have only themselves to blame as the team has not been able to muster up many chances either. The team also sits last in the NHL averaging just 23.2 shots per game.
It took a skilled centre in John Tavares to help Moulson hit the 30-goal mark, so if Buffalo can luck out in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes, then maybe one day Moulson can return to his former goal-scoring self.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.