The 5 Stomach-Knottingest Stories Of The Sabres’ Season
The Sabres’ 40th anniversary started with a sad thud. Sure, the team is in the playoffs now, but it looked very bleak up until the Terry Pegula rumors started swirling in earnest at the end of the 2010 calendar year.
After the jump are Black & Blue & Gold’s five most stomach-knotting stories of the 2010/2011 season, in no particular order.
Not The Start They Wanted
The Sabres won their season opener versus the Senators, but quickly stumbled and finished the first two months of the season with a 9-13-3 record. It was during this skid that the Sabres at one point bottomed out in last place of the entire NHL.
So Many Shorthanded Goals Against
The Sabres may have finished the season with a power play ranked in the top ten of the league with 19.4%, but they also finished the season with the third-most shorthanded goals against. The worst came when the Bruins scored two shorthanded goals during the same Sabres power play on Nov. 3.
Key Players In The Infirmary
First, Niklas Hjalmarsson concussed Jason Pominville with a hit from behind only days into the season. Pominville would miss 9 games. Then it was revealed that Ryan Miller was playing with an injury he suffered in training camp but didn’t disclose to anyone. Miller would miss 5 games with his first injury of the season, but the more drastic impact was that his play while injured cost the Sabres points in the standings. The next player to miss significant time would be Derek Roy. Roy would miss the rest of the regular season on a hit by Dmitry Kulikov that, for lack of a better phrase, blew up his knee. The Sabres would escape the injury bug for the most part again until Ryan Miller would go down again after taking a Dion Phaneuf slapshot to the collarbone. Miller would come back after sitting out four games.
Back-To-Backs Make Up More Than Half Of The Schedule
The Sabres suffered through 22 sets of back-to-backs in the 2010/2011 season, more than any other team in the league. Those sets of games (44 games total) made up over half the schedule for the Sabres and the team went 23-16-5 in those sets. Worse than the record was the amount of fatigue it inflicted on the team.
Blown Two-Goal Leads & Two-Period Leads
The Sabres blew 7 two-goal leads this season and dropped from a 100% winning percentage when leading after 2 to 83%. While neither of those are particularly damning numbers, they do represent the mental softness this team exhibited before going on their second half tear through the schedule.
Check back later for Black & Blue & Gold’s 5 most feel-good stories of the season!