In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the franchise is left searching for answers. The team came out flat in the first period, allowing Minnesota to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Once again, the Sabres looked like a team that simply could not keep up with a much faster, tenacious opponent. During the intermission, assistant coach Bob Woods urged the team to ignore the scoreboard and go out and play their game.
The Sabres came out hot in the second period, registering ten shots within the first ten minutes. With the Wild seeming on their heels, the Sabres went on the power-play with an opportunity to turn the tide, however the man-advantage units remained ineffective in an effort that drew jeers from the home crowd.
The third period was no different. While the Sabres registered more shots, the Wild were able to cash in two insurance goals, one of which came on an empty net. The team left the ice as deserved boos rained down from the home crowd.
At 1-3-2 to begin the season, the Sabres are left looking for answers. Players look lost and defeated, and it is up to the head coach to right the ship quickly. In season two under Dan Bylsma, the Sabres continue to lack the ability to play as a well-oiled machine. Passes in skates, inability to back-check and wildly ineffective special teams play have the Sabres off to a disappointing start.
“We need to get goals to win hockey games, we haven’t been able to do that, it’s certainly led to our demise.” –Dan Bylsma
Most noticeably, the team lacks depth and mental fortitude. Beyond the first line, the Sabres are assembled of a group of players that would struggle to make most NHL rosters. On defense, there is a complete void of talent aside from Rasmus Ristolainen. Veterans like Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges and Cody Franson continue to struggle early on. At this point in time, the rebuild appears far from over.
On offense, the absence of Jack Eichel and Evander Kane has had a clear effect on the team’s confidence. The Sabres continue to come out flat and uninspired, and lack the ability to play a full 60 minutes of inspired hockey. With 10 games in the next 19 days, the tides need to be turned quickly, or the downward spiral could drive the team toward another year where fans have only a high draft slot to look forward to.
It seems as though the addition of one winger and a lateral move on defense was not enough to pull the Sabres from the league basement. Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma need to put their heads together in short order to shake up this roster.
In a season that began with high expectations, spectators have been treated to more of the same from this franchise. The loyal fans who have stuck by this team through two years of blatant tanking deserve better. Next up is a matchup against the Florida Panthers, a 1 p.m. Saturday matinee in downtown Buffalo.