It has been a tough season for the Buffalo Sabres. They currently find themselves at the bottom of the NHL standings with the league’s worst record and on track to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, a streak that would match the longest in NHL history. That is a record that is currently only held by the Edmonton Oilers from 2007 to 2016, and the Florida Panthers from 2001 to 2011.
Their best player, Jack Eichel, is injured and the subject of trade speculation. They changed coaches for the sixth time in 10 years. Jeff Skinner, their $9 million winger, has been relegated to fourth line duty and has been a healthy scratch as his goal scoring has completely dried up. And Taylor Hall, their big offseason acquisition, has struggled through the worst offensive season of his career and might be a trade chip over the next month.
Making matters worse is that they find themselves on a 13-game winless streak that is starting to reach historic levels. At least when it comes to recent NHL history.
[Related: Taylor Hall trade would benefit everybody]
Longest winless streaks in shootout era
The Sabres current streak is just one game away from matching the longest winless streak in the shootout era (14 games), a mark that has been held by the 2009-10 Carolina Hurricanes, 2010-11 New York Islanders, and the 2014-15 Sabres. Keep in mind that Sabres team was the very early part of their rebuild when fans were actually hoping the team would lose for a chance to get Connor McDavid (they lost that draft lottery and ended up with Eichel).
The 2005-06 St. Louis Blues and 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers are the only other teams in the shootout era that have gone at least 13 games.
So it is pretty rare company to go through a stretch like this.
They are still not likely to reach the all-time record
The good news here is they are not going to reach all-time historic levels of futility, a level that is usually limited to the worst-of-the-worst expansion teams and some Original Six era teams.
Here is the list of longest winless streaks all time.
Winnipeg Jets: 30 Games, 1980-81
Kansas City Scouts: 27 Games, 1975-76
Washington Capitals: 25 Games, 1975-76
New York Rangers: 21, Games, 1943-44
Chicago Blackhawks: 21 Games, 1950-51
Ottawa Senators: 21 Games, 1992-93
When will the Sabres get back in the win column?
The trouble for the Sabres this season is they are not only a flawed team with major question marks at important positions, they are playing an unbalanced schedule in what might be the toughest division in the NHL with several Stanley Cup contenders.
The only team they have beaten since January 27 is the New Jersey Devils, going 3-2-1 against them in six games during that stretch.
Against the rest of the division during that stretch they are 0-16-2.
Their game against Boston on Saturday has been postponed, but after that their next eight games are against the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Bruins, and Philadelphia Flyers. Maybe they get the Rangers? Catch an injured, shorthanded Penguins team? It is going to be a challenge every night.