NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. Sabres-Flyers stream coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The 2020-21 NHL season has been a perfect storm of disappointment for the Buffalo Sabres.
An already flawed team, thrown into a new division with an unbalanced schedule, where the overwhelming majority of their games would be against Stanley Cup contenders and teams that finished among the top-10 in the league standings a year ago. Add in an injury to the best player on the roster (Jack Eichel) and a couple of disappointing/unlucky performances from two of the big-money players on the roster (Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner) and you have a historically bad season.
The Sabres not only enter Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with what is by far the worst record in the league, they are also riding an 18-game winless streak that goes all the way back to February.
It is every bit as wild as it sounds. It continued on Monday night when the Sabres looked to be on their way to their first win since Feb. 23 when they had a 3-0 lead over the Flyers entering the third period. Then four consecutive goals by the Flyers later, and here we are at 18 games.
What does an 18-game winless streak look like, and what sort of impact does it have on a season?
Let us take a look.
Some numbers on this streak
• During these 18 games the Sabres have been outscored 74-30. That is a minus-44 goal differential, and what is by far the worst goal share in the league during that stretch. During the past 18 games the Sabres have scored only 28% of the goals that have been scored during their games. The next worst mark in the NHL during that stretch belongs to the Anaheim Ducks, who have a 40% share of the goals during their games.
• The Sabres last win came on Feb. 23, a 4-1 win against the New Jersey Devils. The Sabres’ past three wins have all come against the Devils. They have not beaten a team that is not the Devils since a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers all the way back on Jan. 26. That is over two months ago. The next time the play the Devils is April 6. They only have two games remaining against the Devils.
• Buffalo’s current points percentage of .250 is on track to be the worst the NHL has seen since the Atlanta Thrashers inaugural season when they had a .238 points percentage.
• If the Sabres lose to Philadelphia on Wednesday to close the month of March, that will mean they went an entire calendar month (16 games) without winning a single game. Only one team in NHL history has ever played at least 16 games in a month and failed to win any of them: The 1977-78 Detroit Red Wings had a month (also March) where they lost 15 games and tied one game.
• During their streak the Sabres rank 31st in goals per game and goals against per game, and in the bottom-three of shots per game, shots against per game, save percentage, and on the power play. Their penalty kill has been middle of the pack.
• There are seven players on the roster who are a minus-13 or worse during the streak, including defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who is a minus-20. Rasmus Dahlin is the next lowest at minus-18 during the streak.
• Jeff Skinner (three) and Sam Reinhart (six) are the only players on the team with more than two goals over the past 18 games. Nobody has more than eight points. Eight points in 18 games would come out to a 36-point pace over 82 games.
• The Sabres have spent 573 minutes out of 1,087 minutes during the streak trailing on the scoreboard. That is more than 52% of the time during that stretch. They have held a lead for only 192 minutes. That is only 17% of the time.