Take out three of the team’s better players (Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane), and two of their starting six defensemen (Dmitry Kulikov and Zach Bogosian) and the Sabres are fortunate to be on a near point per game pace.
A record of 5-7-4, somehow puts a better spin on the fact they have five wins and eleven losses. Goaltenders Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson have been respectable in net, giving them a chance to be in every game. They’re eleventh in the league in goals against average.
It’s the offense that’s well.. offensive. The Sabres rank a league-worst 1.88 goals for per game. Crossbars are being struck. Goalposts rung. Pucks trickle wide. But finding the back of the net is near impossible to come by these days. The team has yet to score more than two goals in a game in eight tries this month. They’ve either been shut out or scored just one goal in half of their games. Their defense still has yet to score this season.
After the game in St. Louis, Head Coach Dan Bylsma was stumped. He looked demoralized, lost and left searching for answers.
“We’re strapped for goals. We’re strapped for opportunities to get the goals,” said Bylsma. “It’s not for lack of effort. Guys are throwing it out there and giving it everything they’ve got. You feel like at this time we need a fluke or to fight more for that odd goal to break us out.”
A panic or desperation trade will not suddenly turn this team into a winner. And for cap reasons, they aren’t in a position to bring in a top-notch player without giving up players with sizeable contracts. And then, when injuries finally subside (it’s hard to believe it’ll ever happen, but for now, let’s believe it will), what do you with that player? Is he part of the bigger plan?
Don’t expect General Manager Tim Murray to make a trade. He’s more likely to stay put with his plan (whatever it may be) and watch the losses pile up vs. give up the future– players William Carrier or Nicholas Baptiste– the ones other teams would covet, for a short-term solution.
Here’s a look at Man Games Lost due to injury:
Summary table of NHL injury rankings through 13 November pic.twitter.com/2QUyr9X90J
— LW3H (@LW3H) November 14, 2016