Stunning numbers: It was a terrible March for Sabres
Every month we take a look at some stunning numbers around the NHL.
What is standing out to us lately?
Let’s take a look…
The Buffalo Sabres didn’t win a game in regulation in March
The Sabres are not going to finish the 2018-19 season with the NHL’s worst record, but you could probably put together a pretty convincing argument that they are, in fact, the worst team in the league as their perpetual rebuild continues to go nowhere (read more about that here).
Everything about their early season success was built around a 10-game winning streak that, while impressive, was dominated by overtime and shootout wins. That is no way to sustain success in the NHL, and the Sabres most definitely did not sustain success this season and the month of March may have been their worst stretch of them all.
Their 4-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night, a game where they were booed off the ice after the first period, wrapped up a month where they managed to go just 2-12-2 in their 16 games. The six points they tallied in the standings was the lowest total in the league for the month, four behind the New Jersey Devils and five behind the New York Rangers, the two teams directly ahead of them. What is worse? Buffalo played one more game than both of them. Even the Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings managed to pick up 13 points in their 14 games in March.
Even uglier for Buffalo? Neither of their two wins came in regulation, winning one in overtime (their first game in March against the Pittsburgh Penguins) and one in a shootout (against the St. Louis Blues). They went an entire calendar month without winning a game outright in regulation.
Even worse than that? They have only won 19 games in regulation all season, a mark that is currently tied for the worst in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings.
Never before has a 10-game winning streak actually been a bad thing considering all of the flaws it masked with this team.
Panthers’ top players did not go away quietly
The Florida Panthers are going to miss the playoffs for the 16th time in the past 18 season, and sticking true to the form they displayed all season the month of March was a very hit-and-miss month for them with a four-game losing streak, a four-game winning streak, and a bunch of inconsistent results. What was consistent, though, was the play of their top forwards. Aleksander Barkov (24 points) and Jonathan Huberdeau (23 points) were the second and third leading point producers in the NHL for the month, trailing only Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (27 points). Evgenii Dadonov also had a huge month with 19 points, good enough for the seventh most in the league in March.
[Related: Is there quick fix for Panthers’ continued woes?]
Ben Bishop was nearly unbeatable in March
Goaltending has been one of the biggest factors in the Dallas Stars’ push for a playoff spot as Bishop and Anton Khudobin have both been outstanding this year. Bishop was at his best in March as he recorded a .969 save percentage in his nine appearances and only allowed seven total goals in more than 478 minutes of action. That also included four shutouts. Only 15 goalies in the NHL have recorded four shutouts for the season.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored all the goals for themselves
Two of the stranger stat lines in March belong to Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand and Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
In Edmonton, Nugent-Hopkins continued to be one of the few bright spots on an otherwise forgettable Oilers team as he scored eight goals in the team’s 14 games. He only recorded a single assist, the the second most lopsided goal-to-assist ratio in the league for the month.
The only player that had a more lopsided stat line was Bjorkstrand who finished the month with eight goals for the Blue Jackets and zero assists.
Darcy Kuemper takes a lot of penalties for a goalie
Kuemper has been amazing for the Arizona Coyotes this season, stepping in for the injured Antti Raanta and helping to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. He was incredible in March, and if they make the playoffs he will be a huge reason why. But we need to talk about something here: He has 14 penalty minutes this season, by far the most in the NHL among goalies, and had eight penalty minutes alone in the month of March.
No other goalie in the league has more than six penalty minutes for the season.
The penalty breakdown for Kuemper: Three delay of game penalties and a tripping penalty in March. For the season, he has four delay of games and three(!) tripping penalties!
Only three goalies recorded more than 14 penalty minutes in a season over the past three years.
Then again, considering how good the Coyotes’ penalty kill has been this season and how many shorthanded goals they have scored maybe he is just looking to give his team an edge. (Obviously I am joking about that ... I think?)