Don't Call it a Losing Streak

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One Big Thing: Don’t Call it a Losing Streak

What’s Happening: The Buffalo Sabres were making the kind of history they’d probably prefer to avoid … until Wednesday. But we’ll get to that. Heading into Wednesday’s game against the Flyers, the Sabres were on a historic losing streak. In fact, they’re on track to become one of the worst NHL teams of all time. Oof. So what’s the deal? And who could be moved at the trade deadline? 

(@buffalosabres)

The Big Picture: Sometimes it really just hurts to watch, so let’s catch you up if you’ve been unable to take a look at the Sabres’ record. Heading into Wednesday’s game, Buffalo had a 0-15-3 record since Feb. 25. That mark made the Sabres the not-so-proud owners of the longest winless streak of the shootout era, since the 2005-06 season. They tied with the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins for the most consecutive losses … in the whole 21st century. That includes overtime and shootout losses. 

Don’t Call It A Losing Streak: But before you start calling the Sabres’ record a “losing streak,” check in with the NHL. The league is pretty adamant that we call this a “winless streak.” It’s not quite as catchy, but the NHL technically only considers a loss a loss when the defeat takes place in regulation gameplay. According to the NHL, a loss isn’t a loss if it happens in overtime. Either way, the Sabres hadn’t won in 18 games in a row.

BUT BUT BUT: The Sabres broke the streak on Wednesday, crushing the struggling Flyers — who we profiled earlier this week — 6-1.

Injuries and Trades: Despite the win, morale is likely still pretty low in Buffalo. The team’s captain, Jack Eichel, has been out for the past 11 games with an upper-body injury, and it’s uncertain when he’ll be able to return. To make matters worse, one of the team’s most exciting off-season acquisitions, Eric Staal, has already been traded. And former all-star Taylor Hall is probably on his way out. Now, the team has goalie Linus Ullmark — who got the W Wednesday— back on the ice after a month away, and there’s some hope that he could help the team recover. 

Zoom Out: It would be shortsighted to think of this as a one-year problem for the Sabres, though. They haven’t made it into the postseason in nine years, and that’s all-but-certain to become 10 this year. That’s the longest drought in the NHL. During the pandemic, the Sabres have also had to cut some scouting staff, and they haven’t replaced the scouts they chopped. 

What’s Next: It’s not clear whether the Sabres will be able to hold on to Eichel, or if he’ll start playing again this season. So instead, the Sabres are focused on the April 12 trade deadline. They’ll have to make some tough decisions — including whether or not to trade Taylor Hall, winner of the Hart Trophy in the 2017-18 season.

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A Question for the Peanut Gallery

Which team would you like to see Taylor Hall traded to?

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