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31 in 31

Buffalo Sabres key statistics

Offensive numbers, goalies should benefit from upgrades on blue line

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Staff Writer is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Buffalo Sabres.


[Sabres 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]


1. Defensemen shot attempts

After a strong rookie season from Rasmus Dahlin and trades for Brandon Montour, Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju, the Buffalo Sabres' offensive outlook at defenseman looks more promising than in recent seasons. It's worth noting Montour, Miller, Jokiharju and Rasmus Ristolainen are right-shot defensemen, a valuable commodity in the NHL. Though Jokiharju had a small sample size (38 games) he led the Chicago Blackhawks in shot attempts differential among defensemen (plus-101). Montour fit in nicely with Buffalo last season; he had a plus-65 SAT in 20 games, an improvement from his minus-86 SAT in 62 games with the Anaheim Ducks. The acquisition of Miller fits the theme of adding players who had a positive SAT; he was plus-232 with the Vegas Golden Knights in 65 games.


2. Goalie wins

Carter Hutton was third in the NHL with 12 wins through November 30. He had six wins in 30 games the rest of the season (Dec. 1 through April 6). Linus Ullmark had 10 wins from the beginning of December through the end of the season, but his .898 save percentage was tied with Martin Jones of the San Jose Sharks for 44th to play at least 20 games. The defensive upgrades the Sabres made during the offseason could give their goalies more support and lead to higher win totals and better save percentages.

Video: 31 in 31: Buffalo Sabres 2019-20 season preview


3. Johansson's power-play production

Marcus Johansson had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 58 games last season with the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils, and 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games for Boston. The forward, who has played mostly left wing in recent seasons, could shift back to center for the Sabres, where he potentially could skate on the second line with Jeff Skinner or Sam Reinhart. It's worth noting Johansson's face-off win percentage (41.8 percent) since entering the NHL in 2010-11 is slightly better than Casey Mittlesdtadt (39.7 percent last season), who played center on the second line in 2018-19. Johansson, who averages 2:28 per game on the man-advantage in his NHL career, could spark the Sabres' power-play percentage, which ranked 16th in the NHL last season (19.5 percent).


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