If someone were to ask you if the Sabres are better team this year compared to last year you would likely say the following: They are a better team who typically out shoots their opponent, has more skill in the lineup, and generally are decent to watch unlike last year except… their record is not much better.
Friday night was another case where the Sabres had the majority of the opportunities, but failed to score when they had their chances.
In the first period the Sabres came out with good energy throwing a lot of shots at the net. Evander Kane had a nice chance on one rush and Legwand’s goal was a tribute to crashing the net to make something happen.
At one point near the end of the period, Eichel came in a one-on-one with Colin Miller who basically interfered and took him down with no play on the puck and no penalty called. It would be nice for the league to really come back down on clutching and grabbing, given how high skilled players are routinely taken out by this type of play. Every fan wants to see Crosby, P. Kane, Ovechkin, and for us, Eichel show off their skill and not be mugged out of play. I am not saying I do not want hitting, Scott Stevens was my favorite players as a kid and he demolished people, but these types of plays eliminate skill.
Boston’s first goal was a classic case of the Sabres not picking up the guy on the rebound. Lehner made a nice stop on Spooner after McCabe got beat by him and on the rebound McCabe never picked up Beleskey who put it away.
In the second, Buffalo had the better of the play, but couldn’t break through like we have seen most of the year. Gionta was stoned by Gustavsson on a 2-on-1 break and Eichel was denied midway through the period on the left pushing to the side of the net. Reinhart late couldn’t convert on an Eichel pass in front.
Just 29 seconds into the third, Boston stole the energy from the Sabres with Chara scoring on a weak shot from the left point. Lehner was not ready for it and it went over his glove.
The Sabres had their chances early in the third, but a redirected goal by Spooner put Boston up 3-1 sealing their fate. Connolly also got an empty net goal with 1:09 to go.
The talent is there for Buffalo and they are in almost every game, but for them to become a playoff team they need to convert more and have less mistakes.
Evander Kane: He didn’t score but he at least was generating chances and seemed to be a presence tonight for the Sabres
David Legwand: He did score and it was tribute to good work on his part. He actually has been a decent 4th line player for them this year, one of the few Sabre vets doing his part.
Cody Franson: The Sabres paid him a decent amount of money to be an anchor on the powerplay and he has been non-existent. Additionally his work in his own zone has been weak leaving the door open to the Sabres needing another defenseman brought in because of poor play.
Powerplay: 0 for 4. The chances were there but for some reason the strong powerplay Buffalo had the first two months has disappeared and they rarely score. This is a major reason for a lot of their losses recently because they are getting a lot of powerplay chances just no goals.
The Sabres return to action against Washington Saturday night at home at 7:00 pm.