In the early goings of the 2023-24 campaign, the Buffalo Sabres haven’t looked like the same team that ranked third in the league with 293 goals last season.
The Sabres have 13 goals through six contests this campaign, and their 2.17 goals per game is the fifth lowest in the league. Tage Thompson, who led Buffalo with 47 tallies in 2022-23, has scored only once.
The offensive drought has contributed to Buffalo’s 2-4-0 start, but Thompson is staying levelheaded.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating, but I think as soon as you let frustration set in and negativity, then you’re never going to get out of it,” Thompson told reporters after the Sabres’ 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday. “I think goals come in waves … and you get streaky. You’ve just got to do the right things every shift.”
Thompson added that he believes his team played the right way against the Habs. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period, but Brendan Gallagher broke the deadlock before Tanner Pearson iced the contest with a late power-play tally.
The Sabres fired 37 shots on netminder Jake Allen but beat him only once.
“That’s why that one hurts so much, but we can’t change anything. We gotta play like that,” Thompson said. “That’s two games we’ve strung together in a row now that I thought we took away the will of the other team and had them kind of defeated mentally. … We keep playing like that, that’s a winning recipe.”
Sabres coach Don Granato has a solution for his team’s offensive woes: Get to the net “with more conviction.” Despite Buffalo attempting 69 shots during Monday’s loss, it only strung together eight high-danger chances, per Natural Stat Trick.
“This team and this group will score. … When you’re struggling to score, go to the net more,” Granato said. “Be willing to score the uglier one, the grittier one. That’s how you resolve it. I think the group will, we know we have goal-scorers in here and guys who can make plays.”
Granato also emphasized a need to get Alex Tuch on the board. Tuch ranked second on the Sabres last season with 36 tallies, but he’s goalless in 2023-24.
One Sabre who hasn’t struggled to light the lamp this season is Jeff Skinner, who has three goals and netted Buffalo’s lone tally against Montreal.
Skinner said his team’s struggles are a part of the process.
“It’s a long season, you’re gonna go through ups and downs, you’re gonna go through stretches of games where the team’s feeling just a little bit off. … The only way you’re going to find it is to work through that,” he said. “Other teams aren’t going to take it easier or give us chances. Us earning it is what’s going to have to happen.”
Next up for Buffalo is a clash against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.