When it rains it pours. Thursday the Buffalo Sabres were served up several golden opportunities after Tampa Bay miscues, but couldn’t convert. The Sabres have now lost their sixth straight game, falling to Tampa Bay 4-1.
Five observations from Thursday’s loss:
The Sabres missed chances in every period and once again failed to score more than one goal. Just minutes into the game Sam Reinhart sauced a perfect pass to Evander Kane who was all alone. Kane then shot the puck right into the chest of Ben Bishop, wasting a great chance. But wait, it gets worse! Then, Kane made a great play, out-muscling the defender in front of the net, sliding a perfect pass back to Reinhart, who proceeded to slide the puck right into Bishop’s left pad.
However, no miss was worse than Kyle Okposo’s in the second period. Bishop threw a puck down the middle of the ice right onto the stick of Okposo, who was all alone in front. He had nothing but an open net in front of him, but couldn't convert. Okposo did everything right – firing the shot off quickly, right into the middle of the net, only for Bishop to sprawl Randy Orton style ‘OUTTA NOWHERE’ to make an unbelievable save. This my friends is a perfect example of what the Sabres have been going through.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) November 18, 2016
No run support
I totally understand that an NHL goaltender shouldn’t allow four goals in a game but Robin Lehner just isn’t getting any help. During every game someone on Twitter or Facebook suggests that the Sabres need a better goaltender and I couldn’t disagree more. Both Lehner and Nilsson have been fine, If not flat out good, so far this season.
What are they supposed to do when they can’t get any goals from their teammates? When they play extremely well the Sabres score one or two goals and it isn’t enough. When they play ‘mehhh’ like tonight the Sabres miss chances left and right and you guessed it, score one or two goals a game.
This isn’t about Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly
Let me start by saying this: It isn’t easy to win games, or even score goals, without your two best players. That being said -- c’mon, enough is enough. It’s like the Sabres are playing NHL 17 on the highest difficulty against the computer and just can’t figure out how to score. The Sabres now have 31 goals in 17 games. For those of us who aren’t fond of mental math, that’s a measly 1.82 goals a game. Someone needs to step up soon, or the Sabres will be out of this thing before Eichel even gets back.
From the start we’ve all said that if the Sabres could stay around .500 until their 20-year-old star returns than they would be in position to make a late run. Well, that’s what they did from the start – but the last six games have been a mess. Eventually bounces will start going Buffalo’s way but in the meantime someone needs to step up.
A DEFESEMAN SCORED A GOAL
It took 17 games but on Thursday November 17, 2016 at 8:32 p.m. EST Cody Franson scored a goal for the Sabres on the power play. After the game Franson told reporters that he and his fellow defenders have felt the pressure to step up while the Sabres deal with their scoring woes.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) November 18, 2016
“It comes down to small things of execution,” Franson said about the Sabres struggles. If you had to pick one bright spot from Thursday I would say this would have to be it. Franson alone generated several chances as did Rasmus Ristolainen. If the Sabres can start getting more production from their back end it will take pressure off everyone up front and right now that might be exactly what the team needs.
Buffalo has now played seven games on home ice and have only one win to show for it. Buffalo still has three more games at KeyBank Center before their back on the road on Black Friday against the Washington Capitals. A few wins on home ice before the Thanksgiving holiday would surely be a step in the right direction before the Sabres next home stand.
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