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Friday, September 26, 2008


on 26 September 2008

The Sabres have made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs twice in the three years since the Lockout. Last year, their non-playoff season, was a narrow miss. They have been relatively easy to predict against the Playoff Qualifying Curve – the PQC – because in either winning or losing, they have started down one path and continued to stay upon it every year. So for your purposes of following the Sabres with On Goal Analysis (OGA), history tells us how they finish the first 10 games this season is the general course their season will take. What made last season’s calendar end in early April, and what can we look forward to this season?

The Sabres ended the last three years with an average rating of +5.67 above the PQC. Of note from the 2007/8 season, however, the Sabres:
  • Played the first 10 games EVEN against the Curve. In the same period the two seasons prior, they played above the PQC. (Of note, Buffalo is one of only two teams to have finished a 10-game period with a perfect 10 wins in Games 1 – 10 of the 2006/7 season.)
  • The PQC gave us advanced warning that the Sabres were on a path to sit out the playoffs by 30 JANUARY.
  • Actual elimination by the PQC occurred by 10 MARCH - mathematical elimination wasn’t until 25 MARCH.
We believe the Sabres’ play against the PQC in their first 10 games may very well indicate the season’s final outcome.

A measure of the Sabres’ performance against the PQC is articulated in the graph below. Your gut feeling tells you that Buffalo narrowly missed the playoffs last year when you review the season in the manner we traditionally measure team performance. The PQC, however, shows that they actually only played above the Curve for 22 of 82 games and lost the bubble on their season in the Game 31 – 40 and Game 61 – 70 time frames.

The Sabres’ first 10 games of the season are played 10 – 30 OCTOBER. Our comprehensive analysis (displayed above) indicates that in that time frame, Buffalo earns an average PQC rating of +7 (despite last year’s season-starting back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders).

Some key statistics to keep in mind for the month of OCTOBER are:
  • Buffalo displays a strong trend toward victory in their first 10 games (21-9 / 70%).
  • The Sabres win 82.4% of games in the 4 – 17 OCTOBER time frame.
  • Buffalo is a mid-week team, winning 68% of games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • And the Sabres play an average of 2 ‘Bonus Hockey’ games (overtime or shootouts) in their first 10 and have won 100% of them
OGA will meticulously analyze team play and forward your Buffalo SabresGame 10 Report to season subscribers by 2pm CST on 31 OCTOBER and make it available for order from the On Goal Analysis web site by 2pm CST on 1 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here…)

Is Buffalo going to experience a 2008/9 season like last year, or will they return to post-season battle? History says there very well may be a warning of either IN or OUT after these first 10 Games. OGA will be there to make the call, and you can be, too.

More to follow. Until tomorrow and the Edmonton OilersSeason Preview Report (SPR), this is The Colonel signing off…


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