Although only one-24th through the season, the Buffalo Sabres are giving off many indications they're a different team than the 2011-12 squad.
Consider these numbers:
- The Sabres lead the NHL with 59 penalty minutes. That average of 29.5 minutes per more than double last year's average of 11.02 minutes per game.
- Two finesse forwards – Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford – are second and third on the team with nine and seven penalty minutes, respectively.
- Buffalo's three fighting majors are tied for the most in the league.
- Thomas Vanek leads the NHL with six points. He and Jason Pominville are among six players tied for the lead in assists with four.
- Steve Ott's early stat line is better than the best-case scenario envisioned when the team traded for him in July: Team-high 12 hits (second-most in the NHL), four blocked shots, one goal.
- Only one player on the team, Mikhail Grigorenko (-1), has a negative plus/minus. Cody Hodgson is fifth in the league at +4.
- The Sabres have a 77.2 percent chance of making the playoffs and 6.3 percent chance of winning the Stanley Cup, according to sportsclubstats.com. Both percentages are fourth in the NHL behind Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Anaheim. Buffalo is favored to finish either first, fourth or fifth in the Eastern Conference.
- Buffalo's power play (30 percent) and penalty kill (81.8 percent) are both better than last year.