The Buffalo Sabres last game at the historic Joe Louis Arena will go down as a victory, knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. It's the Sabres second straight win after losing five of their previous six games.
Five observations from Monday's win:
It has been more than two weeks since the Sabres outshot an opponent in the first 20 minutes of a game. Here's how their last six games have gone.
Monday at Red Wings
Sabres 13 shots -- Red Wings 5 shots
3/17 at Ducks
Sabres 8 shots -- Ducks 9 shots
3/16 at Kings
Sabres 2 shots -- Kings 15 shots
3/14 at Sharks
Sabres 9 shots -- Sharks 20 shots
2/11 vs. Blue Jackets
Sabres 6 shots -- Blue Jackets 12 shots
2/10 at Blue Jackets
Sabres 8 shots -- Blue Jackets 14 shots
2/7 vs. Flyers
Sabres 10 shots -- Flyers 16 shots
Needless to say, it was a very good start for the Sabres on Monday, especially when you consider how slow they've been out of the gate lately. Until the final few minutes of the period, the Sabres controlled play but escaped with only a 1-0 lead.
The Buffalo Sabres power-play is once again the best in the league, scoring on 24% of their attempts this year. Their power-play prowess proved (oh hey alliteration) to be the difference once again against Detroit, capitalizing on both of their attempts [Eichel, Moulson].
After the game, Eichel told Pierre McGuire of NBCSN that their success this year has been from keeping things simple and getting pucks to the net.
Update: Jack Eichel is still very good at hockey.
Jack Eichel just scored 21st goal since returning from injury Nov. 29. Others w/21 goals in that same span: Laine, Carter, Pavelski, Tavares
— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) March 21, 2017
And speaking of Eichel, since February 4 (home vs. Senators) no player has more points than Jack Eichel [29 points]. On Monday he added his 21st goal of the season on a cannon from the wall on the Sabres first power-play of the evening.
Sure, that's cool, but what even more impressive was everything that led to the goal. A few minutes earlier Eichel was actually the player who drew the hooking penalty after Detroit defenseman Mike Green couldn't get the puck off his stick.
Once on the power-play, Eichel carried the puck past center ice, dumping it into the corner. He then beat the defender to the corner and won a battle, sending the puck to the point. A few seconds later Eichel was on the wall and just like that the Sabres had a 1-0 lead. Yes, Eichel has been scoring at a ridiculous rate, but he's doing so much more.
Another solid effort between the pipes
While the Sabres have struggled lately their goaltenders have been very solid. Robin Lehner was once again impressive against the Red Wings, stopping 34 of Detroit's 35 shots, including a perfect 18-for-18 in the third period.
Both Lehner and backup Anders Nilsson have had games where they've struggled, but more often than not they've kept the Sabres in games. Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has turned to Lehner on a few back-to-back games this season but after a stellar game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday I'd imagine Nilsson gets the nod on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
'Sammy' Reinhart *could* easily have 25 goals.......
Reinhart already has one more point this year [43p, 16G, 27A] than he did last season [42p, 23p, 19p] in seven fewer games played. While he has seven fewer goals, he's had plenty of chances, which makes you think he's getting into the right areas.
Monday was a perfect example when Reinhart missed two golden opportunities on the same shift in the first period. Obviously you'd like to see the 21-year-old forward capitalize on those chances, but eventually, they'll start going in.....or at least they should.
For a young guy who isn't huge Reinhart spends a lot of time in the dirty areas of the ice in front of the net, which is nice to see. He may never dazzle you with offensive production but Reinhart will surely be a consistent contributor for years to come.
*Bonus* Evan Rodrigues has been really impressive.
I think so. He's been very impressive. Would be a really solid bottom six forward. https://t.co/vndlUj44kR
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) March 21, 2017
Once again Evan Rodrigues made his case to be on this team for the remainder of the year and the start of next season. He doesn't do anything super flashy, but he's responsible in his own end of the ice while still providing an offensive spark when in the offensive zone.