5 Observations: Lightning storm past Sabres 4-2

5 Observations: Lightning storm past Sabres 4-2
Posted at 10:30 PM, Jan 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-12 22:30:07-05

The Buffalo Sabres had a chance to do something they hadn't done since 2012 on Thursday -- earn a point in five straight games. The Tampa Bay Lightning spoiled Buffalo's efforts, knocking off the Sabres 4-2.

Five observations from Thursday's loss:

*Bonus -- Bove's midseason Sabres report card* 

This line isn't fetch, stop trying to make it a thing

I hate that Jack Eichel spent a big chunk of Thursday's game centering a line with Brian Gionta and Marcus Foligno. Yes, Sam Reinhart and others were shuffled into the mix, but the Sabres need a new combination.

Don't get me wrong, I've liked Gionta and Foligno this year -- but they shouldn't be on a line with the most talented player on the team. I understand that injuries require Reinhart to play center -- but something needs to change.

How is the teams most talented player supposed to thrive without upper tier talent on the wing? The good news -- Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma shuffles his lines like crazy, so maybe this combination will be split up sooner rather than later. It should be noted that Eichel wasn't on a line with Gionta and Foligno in the third period.

Possible solution

I don't hate the idea of a Foligno-Girgensons-Foligno line. In the third period, this trio looked good and created some solid pressure. If this combination shows some chemistry than the Sabres can move Reinhart onto a full-time line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. The latter trio also had a fantastic third period and generated a lot of pressure, nearly tying the game multiple times.

Bishop's back

The Buffalo Sabres just can't figure out how to beat Ben Bishop. To be fair, most other teams can't either. In the last four seasons, Bishop has 121 wins -- the third most during that span leaguewide. Unfortunately for the Sabres, Bishop returned to the lineup on Thursday after missing Tampa Bay's last ten games.

As expected Bishop was dynamite in his return. There's a reason he's one of the best goaltenders in the league. Bishop is now an incredible 10-0-1 against the Sabres in his career.

Side note, how brutal was that high-sticking call on Evander Kane at the end of the game. Maybe you didn't know, but Bishop is also apparently an award winning actor.

Sabres didn't do themselves any favors early on

You know how you beat an elite goaltender like Ben Bishop? You pepper him with an absurd amount of shots and hope for a weird bounce or a rebound.

The Sabres didn't do that in the first two periods-- finishing with only 15 shots after the first 40 minutes. Of those 15 shots, only a few of them were quality scoring chances.

In the third period the Sabres adopted the get everything to the net philosophy, and oh look at that, it was their best period of the game.

*air quote* Power *air quote* play

The Buffalo Sabres had several chances to get back into Thursday's game but just couldn't take advantage of Tampa Bay penalties.

The Sabres finished the evening 0-for-4 on the power play and failed to really get much of anything going with the man advantage.

Buffalo had a golden chance to tie the game in the third period when Bishop took a delay of game penalty but instead surrendered multiple Lightning odd-man rushes. Buffalo has had one of the better power plays in the league this season, but they've also been incredibly streaky and on Thursday they struggled. 

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