Tonight's Sabres game was full of odd occurrences, including Nick Deslauriers scoring by a puck bouncing off his glove, and even a shorthanded goal from Andre Benoit. The Sabres led 3-1 midway through the game, but it seemed inevitable that the lead would diminish.
The Sabres were vastly outshot, 39 to 16 by the end of the game. Buffalo continued to take penalties as well, which is never a good sign when playing a team that features the type of talent that the Red Wings have collected. Things got ugly Things got ugly as Detroit scored five unanswered goals to double up the Sabres 6-3.
The Sabres lineup was full of young faces, with Joel Armia, Mikhail Grigorenko, Johan Larsson, Tim Schaller, and Mark Pysyk now all up from Rochester. Even in a losing effort, many of these players are getting solid opportunities to grow. Armia was featured on the top line in his first game. Grigorenko got both penalty kill and power play time, and Schaller was also heavily featured on the PK. It's a bit of a glimpse into the future, besides the result hopefully.
1. Who will play for Buffalo tonight? Is there anyone left?
Patrick Kaleta returned from illness, so the Sabres only needed to make one more call-up. They chose Armia, who played his first NHL game. He didn't get on the score sheet, but made some nice plays on the top line with Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis.
As some, like Paul Hamilton, pointed out, he was playing left wing despite being a natural right wing. Hamilton pointed out that this lead to some defensive struggles for Armia. His stickhandling was solid, but had a few giveaways and seemed a bit too easily pushed off the puck. Armia had the puck on a 3-on-1, but the Detroit defender just skated from behind him and took it away. He'll need to work on that.
2. Can the Sabres solve one of the top special team units in hockey?
Absolutely not. The Red Wings powerplay just kept chugging along, scoring on four of their six opportunities. Detroit gave the Sabres little opportunity when it came to special teams, and the Sabres were unable to score on their one power play opportunity.
Buffalo was able to score on of their own while Detroit was on the man advantage when Benoit beat Mrazek with a laser of a shot.
3. Will the Sabres be able to give their fans any Christmas cheer in their final game before the holidays?
If you're pro-tanking, then yes! The Flyers won today, pushing them to five points ahead of the Sabres. Carolina sits five points behind the Sabres with a win, and the Coyotes dismantling of Edmonton will put them just two points behind Buffalo.