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To end home futility, history provides fighting chance vs. Kings

By Mike Harrington

When I wrote today's Sabres story on their struggles in First Niagara Center, I didn't know the startling fact that I updated the Web version with early this morning: A loss tonight against the Los Angeles Kings makes the Sabres the second team in NHL history to go winless at home in their first 10 games of a season. Jeez. 

The Sabres are currently 0-8-1 and the record for worst NHL start at home was set by the 1983-84 Pittsburgh Penguins, who went 0-9-2 (that's two ties) at then-Civic Arena. They finally won a game on Nov. 23, 1983 at the Igloo by beating New Jersey, 4-1.

That Pittsburgh team finished 16-58-6 and their 38 points was last overall in the NHL. It's widely believed the club tanked its season to get the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 draft -- which it turned into Mario Lemieux. Hmmm. Sounds like a familiar strategy, even though there's no Lemieux in the offing at next June's league meeting in Philadelphia.

If the Sabres want to break that home slide tonight, beating the Kings seems to be an unlikely proposition. Just 17 months after winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the Kings are 11-6 thus far and look solid. Pretty crazy to think that 22 points has them ninth in the Western Conference and third in the wild-card standings, as in out of the playoffs at the moment.

The Kings haven't been in Buffalo since a 4-2 win by the Sabres on Nov. 19, 2010 and although recent history is bleak, long-term history shows the Sabres have a chance to break their skid tonight.

Consider:

---The Sabres are 10-1-1 in their last 12 home games against Los Angeles dating to Dec. 17, 1993 and have outscored the Kings in those games, 55-19. 

---Buffalo has won the last four meetings here by a combined score of 27-6 and the Kings have not won since downtown since a 4-1 win on Feb. 21, 2003. 

---A Buffalo win tonight would give them five straight home wins against Los Angeles, tying their most ever against the Kings (set Dec. 20, 1996-Oct. 7, 2000).

So there's that. Of course, there's that issue of the Sabres getting outscored, 26-3, in the first period ... and scoring 14 goals in nine home games ... and giving up the first goal in 17 of 19 games ... and giving up four power-play goals the last two games. ... and being 0-13 when trailing after two periods.

You get my point. 

tagged

LA Kings | NHL Entry Draft | Pittsburgh Penguins | Sabres game day
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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