Monday, November 13, 2017

Sabres schizophrenia alternating between good and bad, wins and losses

Published by, 11-11-2017

Much respect and gratitude to all veterans. This is your day.
Thank you for your service.

And Congratulations to Dave Andreychuk. Your Hockey Hall of Fame ring was well deserved and long overdue.

The Buffalo Sabres are coming off of a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Florida Panthers. After scoring first, the Sabres gave up four unanswered goals to a Panthers team that came into KeyBank Center on a five-game losing streak (0-3-2.)

Two of Florida's goals came late in the third period with Robin Lehner pulled in favor of the extra attacker which now brings the total to five empty net goals given up on the season (NYI, LAK, VAN, FLA-2) an two players have been on the ice for all five--Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly. Evander Kane has been on the ice for four while Sam Reinhart,, Jason Pominville and have been on the ice for three each.

The Sabres have scored two empty net goals with Eichel being on the ice for both. Larsson scored one for Buffalo at Anaheim with O'Reilly getting the primary assists while Kane scored against Washington on a Pominville feed.

Buffalo heads to Montreal tonight for the second of a back-to-back, their fourth such set this season. With the 4-1 loss at home to Florida last night, the Sabres fell to 1-3-0 in the first game and are 2-1-0 in the second game thus far.

Some interesting info on the Sabres/Canadiens matchup recently. Buffalo is 4-4-2 in their last 10 vs. Montreal, 6-4-0 on the road. And, since 2014-15, the Sabres have gone 7-4-3 against Les Habitants, 4-2-0 in Montreal. That would include a whale of a game last season in Montreal where the Sabres came out on top 3-2 in overtime. The goaltending duel between Montreal's Carey Price and Buffalo's Robin Lehner extended into overtime and included this beauty of a save from Lehner in the extra session:

(Thank you, NHL Magazine)

The Canadiens have struggled this season but seem to have righted the ship. After starting out with a dismal 1-6-1 record, Montreal has put together a nice 6-3-0 stretch which moved them up to sixth place in the conference, three points ahead of the Sabres.

Price has been out for Montreal but in his absence back-up Al Montoya chalked up a win before he was sidelined. In stepped rookie Charlie Lindgren who proceeded to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0. The 23 yr. old undrafted free agent followed that up with a win over the Vegas Golden Knights before dropping a 3-0 decision to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.


The Sabres are looking to overcome a lackluster performance at home against the Panthers. After skating to a 1-0 lead in the first period while doing many things right, their play slowly disintegrated and early in the third they found themselves down 2-1, eventually losing by a 4-1 score. Periods two and three were a departure from how they played in the first period. Through the first 20 minutes we saw a carryover from their 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals, a game widely considered their most complete game of the season.

It was something not lost on head coach Phil Housley as he said that all the work they did, and the success they had against the Capitals was thrown out the window in the second period due to poor decisions, penalties and turning the puck over. It put undue pressure on the defense, which has been hit hard by injuries, and allowed Florida to tie the game. A screened shot put the Panthers up by 2-1 early in the third and the Sabres couldn't get the game-tying goal.

Buffalo GM Jason Botterill, who's managed to remain very positive through a rather difficult season thus far, was on WGR550's Schopp and the Bulldog Show yesterday prior to the game and talked about consistency. He pointed to isolated positives throughout the season thus far but told the hosts that the team "hasn't been able to carry it on into the next game" saying it's "an element we need to work on."

The Sabres have yet to string together more than two wins in a row this season an the one time they did win back-to-back games, they got shellacked the next game. Through the last eight games they're 4-4-0 having won two and lost two before alternating between wins and losses the next four. Within those games there were a couple of dismal losses (CLB and DAL by the same 5-1 score,) a couple of schizophrenic wins (BOS and ARI by an identical 5-4 score) and two well played games, one that they lost (SJS) and the other a win (WSH.)

What will we see tonight?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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