The only expression I could use to describe Thursday’s Sabres game is head for the hills the kitchens on fire. What a mess tonight was after the Sabres disaster at home against Florida. It is hard not to think about the first pick right now with tonight’s loss to the Flyers.
If there was one true bright spot in tonight’s game, Justin Bailey was fantastic in his first NHL game. He showed good vision and speed throughout with a knack for finding the puck and getting it to the net. In the first period he almost converted a nice pass from Sam Reinhart for his 1st NHL goal, but Steve Mason denied the chance.
I have tried to not overly criticize Dan Bylsma given the youth of the lineup and new system he has brought in. But the Sabres went 0-6 on the powerplay while at one point having a lineup of Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, Zack Bogosian, Cody Franson and Evander Kane on the ice. I understand everyone minus Kane are having rough seasons and the goal sometimes is to get an easy goal for your struggling players. But this doesn’t justify putting out a group of players together like that who have been so cold lately.
Robin Lehner was not great tonight after being a wall since returning from injury excusing the Florida game, but the Sabres defense had some really bad breakdowns also.
Reviewing the goals from the second showed the defensive miscues of the Sabres and the weak goals Lehner allowed. The first Flyers goal saw the Sabres forget to cover Umberger on the left side for an easy tap in during a Flyers rush. The second goal Lehner probably needed to make a better save, but the Sabres did little to block any of the passing lanes allowing a nice one timer by Raffl to Schenn. The third goal Lehner needs to make the save. Simmonds was far out on the right side and still scored a weak goal up high on Lehner.
After the Sabres wasted two more power plays the Flyers fourth goal by Nick Cousins was a failure of the Sabres defense to cover and stop the breakout pass to Cousins while Lehner didn’t play the angle right.
The game was more or less over after the second with the Flyers leading 4-0. The Sabres did get on the board after Mark Pysyk set Jake McCabe up for a one timed pass at the blueline which Steve Mason stopped but Jamie McGinn was able to bang in on the rebound. The Flyers unfortunately scored soon after to finish the game with a 5-1 victory with Cousins getting his first of his career.
I would be remissed to not mention the incredible cheap shot by Flyers Radko Gudas on Buffalo’s Danny Catenacci. Gudas absolutely hammered the head of a defenseless Dan Catenacci while he was crossing mid ice. Jake McCabe and the Sabres do deserve credit for immednitly fighting Gudas and defending their teammate.
If there is one positive of the last two games, the Sabres have at least defended their teammates regardless of how out of reach the game got.
One Good: Justin Bailey- Buffalo was really bad tonight so there is only one player who even deserves any credit. Justin Bailey had a really nice first game. Between his skating and vision to get pucks on the net there was a lot of promise. I would like to see him with Eichel next game, he seems to understand how to read the play well and would fit with Jack well for at least a game.
Buffalo Powerplay: 0-6, 0-3 in the first period when it was 0-0 and Buffalo could’ve taken the lead multiple times. The powerplay has went from an area of improvement to a nightmare as the season has progressed. If the Sabres want to make an improvement in the standings the powerplay has to stay in the upper half of the league.
Sabres defense: They are not physical lately and are just watching a lot of the play rather then joining. Young guys like Risto, Pysyk, & McCabe are struggling big time right now.