BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - With a win against the New Jersey Devils, the Buffalo Sabres had an opportunity to win their fourth consecutive game, something they haven't done in more than three years [December 2014]. Instead, the Sabres fell short, dropping their first game back from the All-Star break 3-1 to the Devils. Jake McCabe scored the lone Sabres goal on the power play with five minutes left in the third period as the Sabres comeback came up short.
Five observations from Tuesday's loss:
Traffic, traffic, looking for my chapstick
Pat yourself on the back right now if you get that reference. If not, no worries, the only word that matters in the sub-category is 'traffic'.
On Tuesday the Sabres didn't get any traffic in front of Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid in the first two periods, allowing him to easily swallow up almost every shot he faced. Of the Sabres' 28 shots, only a few seemed to be a real threat. During the recent Western Canada road trip the Sabres did a great job getting bodies in front of the net and they were rewarded. The same can be said on the Sabres only goal of the evening. Coincidence? I think not!
Home hasn't been so sweet for the Sabres, who have only won six games at KeyBank Center this season. To be fair, they have only won 14 total, it's just surprising how much they've struggled in their own building. Buffalo better snap the trend soon, their next four games will be played on home ice.
After the loss, McCabe, Eichel and O'Reilly all said they need to make KeyBank Center a harder place for opponents to play. The #Sabres have only six wins on home ice this season @WKBWpic.twitter.com/a23Niu0Zdc
Evander Kane, who will likely be traded within the next month, has only one point in the Sabres last ten games. It surely doesn't help that Kane was moved from Eichel's wing to Johan Larsson's.
After a blazing hot start, the Sabres winger has quickly cooled off. Kane hasn't scored since January 4 and has only one goal since December 22. There is no telling if his recent struggles will greatly impact his return in a potential trade but if I were Jason Botterill I would be looking to make a deal sooner rather than later.
In the first period, Devils forward Taylor Hall crushed Kyle Okposo from behind in the corner, resulting in a two-minute boarding penalty. Although Okposo got up a few seconds later, it was a scary hit that could've resulted in serious injury.
Here's my biggest issue -- the hit only led to a two-minute penalty, the same punishment awarded for something accidental like a delay of game infraction. Hockey can be dangerous and officials will always be criticized, I just don't believe in this instance the punishment fit the crime.
This is my problem. Yes, that Hall hit was likely an accident but why is that penalized the same as a delay of game? #Sabres
Remember in the summer when the Sabres were a finalist to land standout college free-agent Will Butcher? Well, he chose New Jersey and on Tuesday displayed that he could've been a huge asset here in Buffalo.
In the second period, Butcher hit teammate and Buffalo native Miles Wood in stride with a perfect pass, moments before Wood beat Lehner with a quick forehand-backhand move. The assist gives the rookie a whopping 27 on the season. Along with his two goals, Butcher has seven more points than Rasmus Ristolainen, the Sabres most productive defenseman. Yeah, Butcher could've certainly helped this team.