The Buffalo Sabres, a team grappling with a series of disappointments before the Christmas break, have reached a new low. The Sabres allowed seven goals in under 22 minutes to the conference’s 15th-place team in a 9-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. This happened over a disastrous stretch bridging the first and second periods.
This season’s unfolding narrative is a far cry from the optimism that once surrounded the team. The Sabres, narrowly missing the playoffs last season, were expected to leverage their young and evolving squad to avoid such pitfalls this year.
However, despite returning most of their roster and being the youngest in the league, Buffalo is struggling to pinpoint the reasons behind their lackluster performance. With a record of 13-17-3, the Sabres are dangerously close to extending their NHL record for the longest playoff drought to 13 years.
Examining Don Granato’s Future with the Buffalo Sabres
Attention is now turning towards head coach Don Granato. Granato, in his third full season, has been praised for nurturing talents like Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin. Yet, despite his philosophy of encouraging fearless play, the team seems to have hit an impasse.
Buffalo’s regression is evident in several areas, notably their power play. Once a formidable aspect of their game, it now ranks 27th in the NHL. Additionally, their playmaking defensemen are increasingly prone to turnovers.
Rookie goalie Devon Levi, after an impressive 5-2 record last season, is now facing challenges, including a stint in the minors and a recent removal after conceding four goals against Columbus.
While Granato still has the support of General Manager Kevyn Adams, the sustainability of this backing is uncertain, especially in a league where teams like Edmonton, Minnesota, St. Louis, and Ottawa have already opted for coaching changes. Adams himself faces scrutiny for potentially overestimating his young roster and not acting swiftly to invigorate the team.
Despite these challenges, the players remain supportive of Granato. Yet, with the team’s ongoing struggles, the question arises: How long before a coaching change is deemed necessary to rekindle the Sabres’ competitive fire?