Vulgar Statistics: Current Sabres in the Playoffs
Who raises their game in the playoffs? It’s a tough question to answer with our current crop of Sabres since playoff experience is pretty lacking. The only guys left over from the 05-07 run are Vanek, Connolly, Roy, Pominville, Gaustad, Stafford (07), Grier (in an odd way), and of course Ryan Miller. There are a few guys that have experience with other teams, but by and large things are pretty slim. (And yes, I realize that all this is dependent upon the yet-to-be-guaranteed Sabres actually making the playoffs.)
All of these numbers are post-lockout because I like to keep the assessment of players as current as possible.
The blue and gold highlights are the various players’ playoff numbers and they are arranged from most to least experience, first the forwards, then the defense.
It’s a tough comparison to make for sure, especially due to the limited number of playoff games played for most of the team, and the fact that scoring tends to decrease in the playoffs overall. Perhaps it’s not that worrisome that most of our team sees a drop in production…but it is a bit worrisome, particularly on our (extremely postseason-raw) defense.
However, there are certainly positive signs. Thomas Vanek’s numbers are down largely to his lackluster efforts between 2005 and 2007, but last season he was a monster, pretty much the reason Boston gooned him out of the lineup (which is the reason Boston won the series). Tyler Ennis had a great performance as a rookie, and Jason Pominville has typically been very solid.
There is another cog in the machine, goaltender Ryan Miller.
There isn’t a huge difference in Miller’s playoff performances and his performances in the regular season. Whether you want to attribute his slightly increased GAA and SV% to a decrease in scoring overall is up to you. Of course, to be perfectly fair, Miller’s stats are dependent upon the rest of the team way more than any other player and thus may not be the best way to measure him. Certainly you can blame a lackluster penalty kill and abysmal power play (and the Bruins gooning out Vanek) for last season’s opening round loss way more than you can blame Miller for anything.
Unfortunately there isn’t a single player on the team you can point to and say “man, that guy steps it up.” The best we have to work with at the moment are the hopes that Thomas Vanek and Tyler Ennis look as much like that guy (those guys?) as they did last season (and that Nathan Gerbe again puts up Crosby numbers), and that role players like Grier, Kaleta, and McCormick chip in the odd goal every now and then. Since that’s kind of depressing, I’ll leave you with Thomas Vanek being awesome to cheer you up.