BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It's been three days since the Buffalo Sabres have scored a goal. The Philadelphia Flyers shut out the Sabres 3-0 on Sunday afternoon at KeyBank Center. All three goals were scored in the second period, while the Sabres couldn't get much going offensively despite the return of Jack Eichel.
After three games in four days on their home ice, the blue and gold hit the road to start the upcoming week. Their next game is at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.
Three observations from Sunday's game:
Superstar center Jack Eichel was back on the ice for the first time since Tuesday after a lower body injury took him-- and the rest of his team-- by surprise. In the meantime, Riley Sheahan and Curtlis Lazar spent time centering Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson. Eichel's return was certainly a welcome one... but at what cost?
Scratching Dylan Cozens. The rookie forward was Buffalo's extra skater during warmups and was replaced by Kyle Okposo on the second line. Cozens added a noticeable spark to the team when he returned to COVID-19 protocol. He's been excellent in his own end as well, and benefiting from learning from big-name line-mates Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.
Even as the Sabres continued looking for a spark and looking for the right combination, Cozens got some time on the first power play unit while Eichel was recovering. Whatever Ralph Krueger tried today isn' the answer. Scratching Dylan Cozens certainly isn't a part of the answer either.
Mixing up the back end
After an impressive NHL debut, Jacob Bryson regressed to starting to look more and more like a rookie. Evidently, the Sabres had seen enough; he was sent back down to the taxi squad. Veteran defenseman Colin Miller, who's been seeing solid special teams time at both ends, was also scratched today.
Matt Irwin and Brandon Davidson took their places on Sunday. The Rasmus squared pairing has some potential, but before a solid defensive showing in the third period, the Sabres allowed 34 shots through two periods of play. The effort came far too late though, as the Sabres trailed 3-0 after the second period.
Considering the nature of the goals scored, and how many shots he faced, Jonas Johansson didn't have a bad outing by any means. An in-the-zone Linus Ullmark would've given Buffalo a better chance, but they won't get that for at least another month. So the Sabres have to tighten up in front of G2 and G3 for the time being.
Okay, Philadelphia's first goal wasn't a deflection. But it was a rebound. The Flyers made a perfect example of what happens when you go to the net. Get bodies down there. Get sticks in shooting lanes. Good things happen. If Johansson controls that rebound, maybe the wind isn't taken out of the Sabres' sails. But the last two tallies weren't his fault.
Ralph Krueger is adamant that, in all three zones, the Sabres can't let frustration get into their game. But I can't imagine how it doesn't when the snowball effect of a single period practically takes Buffalo out of the game.