At this point in the year, the wins and losses don't matter for the Buffalo Sabres - they've got last place all but locked up, and nobody really expected them to beat the team with the second-most points in the NHL anyway. What's more important for Buffalo is to watch how those players who will be a significant player in the rebuild of the team, and how they respond over the last few weeks of the season.
Oh, and to not suffer any catastrophic injuries that might keep players out for momths at a time.
Not only did the Sabres lose a hard-fought game to the St. Louis Blues 2-1, they also lost Marcus Foligno in the first period for the rest of the season to a bad-looking knee injury. Ted Nolan confirmed Foligno's status after the game, but did say that the injury might not be "too too bad". Let's hope it's something that doesn't affect Foligno's offseason training or the beginning of next year.
As for the game itself, the Sabres were a game opponent for the powerhouse Blues, and the game was close all the way to the finish. The two teams played a very conservative first period, with only a combined nine shots and no goals scored. The second period saw things open up, while St. Louis opened the scoring just a few minutes in as Maxim Lapierre put a wrist shot past Nathan Lieuwen.
Speaking of the young goalie, Lieuwen played another strong game tonight, making 26 saves, but his indecisiveness handling the puck late in the third period gave the Blues the opportunity to score their second goal. "I tried to do my best to get back in the net, but I thought my puck play tonight was pretty poor", said Lieuwen. "It’s definitely one thing in my game I need to work on but as far as stopping the puck was concerned, I felt really good tonight."
A late Cody Hodgson power play goal made it close, but in the end the Sabres found themselves on the losing end once again, despite the solid effort. Ted Nolan was pleased with the COMPETE LEVEL tonight, saying, "The one thing our team is starting to do is we are to learn how to battle. Once we get going here, we’re going to be OK."
1. How will Jake McCabe look in his NHL debut?
McCabe looked smooth and confident in his 16:20 of ice time. He showcased his smooth skating, accurate passing abilities, and his smarts, stepping up to join the rush or make a hit when necessary. His possession numbers weren't great, but we'll cut him some slack in his NHL debut. Ted Nolan would say about his newest player, "He got a little tightened up at the end, probably nervous, but I really liked him. He played well for his first game. To come into the National Hockey League in your first game and play against arguably one of the best teams in the league...that was a good first impression." Good start for the kid.
3. Can Ennis and Stafford keep their play up until the end of the season?
Ennis assisted on Hodgson's goal, while Stafford actually sat this one out with a minor injury. We'll chalk this one up as a "pass" for now.
Comment of the Game
I'm confused, who are we rooting for?
Franchise stats for players who have donned the Buffalo blue & gold tonight:
4 players dressed for St. Louis tonight – 1,372 GP, 538 P
22 players dressed for Buffalo tonight – 1,773 GP, 578 P
Former Sabres > current Sabres.