Vulgar Statistics: Sabres Power Play
The Sabres Power Play, bane of fans everywhere. It’s been a problem for years now, and the fans are ready to revolt. However, despite what we can all see with our own two eyes (that the power play is terrible) the Sabres usually manage to finish in the middle of the league in power play percentage. It has long been my contention that the amount of power play goals isn’t the real issue. It’s when they’re scored. How often do you see the Sabres scoring a clutch power play goal to break a tie late in a game? How often do you see them using a timely man advantage to get back into a game in which they’re behind? Not often.
I tracked the Sabres power play in three specific situations. How it performs when they’re losing, how it performs when they’re tied, and how it performs when they’re winning. The results were what expected, that is…disappointing.
- When the Sabres are ahead in a game, their power play percentage was 19.0% (18/95) which would have been good for 11th in the league.
- When the Sabres are tied, their power play percentage was 18.0% (18/100) which would have bumped them ahead of Chicago to 17th.
- When the Sabres are tied and have not scored (i.e. not 0-0), their power play percentage was 11.2% (10/89) which would have put them last.
- When the Sabres are behind, their power play percentage was 16.1% (19/118), which would have put them tied for 25th in the league.
So what does it mean?
To put it quite simply, the Sabres power play is the anti-clutch. Now scoring a power play when up a goal is pretty clutch. And scoring a power play goal late when down by a bunch of goals isn’t exactly anti-clutch. But by and large the analysis gives a good look at the Sabres weaknesses on the power play. I don’t really have a lot to say because the numbers alone are pretty damning.
Last year’s playoff series pretty much put the stamp on the envelope. The Sabres simply could not score with the man advantage when it mattered. And it always matters in the playoffs. There is one positive. The Sabres are actually pretty good at scoring on a man advantage early to break open the scoring. With Ryan Miller in net, going up 1-0 will make up for a lot of shortcomings.