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Vulgar Statistics: Sabres By The Seasons

09/12/13

One of my favorite things about the internet and sports is that pretty much every team has a “seasons” article in Wikipedia where you can have their every year of existence in front of you on the same chart.  Here is the Sabres version.  I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to hockey during the offseason, but I get the sense that “heading for historical ineptness” might not be a terribly uncommon thought among Sabres fans, whether Miller and Vanek get traded or not.

What would ‘bad’ entail?

It would probably mean dropping below achieving one point per fame, or below 82 points in the modern era, something the Sabres have only done 7 times in their 42 season history.  Last season they were right on target for 1.00 points per game with 48 in 48.  The last time the Sabres dipped below that number was the 2002-2003 season in which they managed 72 pts (.88 per game).

What would ‘historically bad’ entail?

There’s a couple of ways to look at this.  The Sabres worst point total in their history is their second season in which they notched 51 points in 78 games, or roughly 53 points given an 82 game season.  Achieving that few points is pretty terrible as most awful teams usually land somewhere in the low 60s.  The last team to even get close was the 2006-2007 Philadelphia Flyers who managed 56 (22-48-12) and the last team to be at or below 53 was the 2000-2001 New York Islanders with 52 (21-51-7-3).

It might be better to consider the 82-game era, with which we would again land on the 2002-2003 season.  The Sabres have actually been decent to good for most of their history it turns out, just rarely elite.

What would ‘good’ entail?

With this team it might be anything above .500, but historically the Sabres have averaged 1.11 points per game, good for 91 points in an 82 game season.  As the Sabres have generally been good (playoffs in 29/42 seasons), I think that would qualify as a good season based on the team’s history.

What would ‘historically good’ entail?

The Sabres best regular season comes down to two choices, the 1974-1975 cup season, and the 1979-1980 lost-to-a-historically-great-Islanders-team season.  While most of us probably remember fondly the 2006-2007 season as the Sabres’ best, their points per game that year (1.38) actually sits tied for second (with 79-80 and behind 74-75), and their goal differential (+66) lands seventh (behind 79-80 (+117), 74-75 (+114), 75-76 (+99), 76-77 (+81), 80-81 (+77), and 77-78 (+73)).

The 1.41 points per game that they achieved in the 1974-1975 season would put them at 116 and be the best season in Sabres history.  Having a plus-triple-digit goal differential is probably impossible in this era, and the last team to do so was the 2005-2006 Ottawa Senators at +103.  One can dream.

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