Published by hockeybuzz.com, 3-7-2017
"I’m hoping that we’ve had enough pain and enough anguish to maybe turn a corner in learning how to play and win these hockey games."
The above quote came from the lips of Buffalo head coach Dan Bylsma who was talking to the Buffalo media about a Sabres team that has blown three third period lead over the course of the last seven games. During that stretch a team that was thought to be in a position to make a playoff push sits in it's usual spot at the bottom of a pack of teams where only one can hope to get in. The record itself, 1-4-2, is brutal enough, but when you have Jon Vogl of the Buffalo News writing that "the players looked battered and sounded defeated," well, that doesn't bode well for the final 16 games.
Tonight the Sabres face a Flyers team that's only two points ahead of them in the standings and the last time these two teams met, Buffalo came out on top 4-1. That was back on January 10 when the Sabres were on a four-game points streak (3-0-1.) Buffalo jumped out to a 3-0 lead for the second time against the Flyers but this time they held on for the win. Back in October, which was pretty much a harbinger of things to come, the Sabres went into the third period with a 3-0 then proceeded to allow three unanswered goals (all with Philly on the powerplay) and ended up losing in the shootout, which is another familiar scenario this season as the Sabres are 1-6 in the skills competition.
A 1-4-2 spiral, especially when it matters most, tends to put a damper on any enthusiasm remaining in Sabreland but there are some brightspots.
Jack Eichel has been sensational as of late with 21 points in his last 16 games. "Jack Flash" is on a 10-game points streak (3g + 10a) and is only two points behind Ryan O'Reilly (44 pts.) for the team scoring lead. Evander Kane continues to light the lamp at a pace that could see him hit 30 goals on the season. Both Eichel and Kane have been offensive juggernauts for the Sabres and according to a Paul Hamilton retweet from Bucci Mane, since January 24 Eichel is tied with Jamie Benn (DAL) for most points scored (23) while Kane has notched 11 goals.
Bylsma told the gathered media this morning that Robin Lehner will be back between the pipes this evening. Lehner's sporting an 18-18-8 record with 2.59 GAA and .922 Sv%.
And according to Jourdon LaBarber of sabres.com, these were the lines at the morning skate:
Marcus Foligno-Eichel-Sam Reinhart
Nicolas Deslauriers-Zemgus Girgensons-Tyler Ennis
Matt Moulson-Evan Rodrigues-Justin Bailey
Because it's an NBCSN game, start time will be 7:30 p.m.
Games of interest tonight:
New Jersey @ Columbus
Detroit @ Toronto
NY Rangers @ Florida
Carolina @ Colorado
NY Islanders @ Edmonton