On the heels of a tough overtime loss in Calgary, where the Buffalo Sabres blew two 3rd period leads to the Flames and failed to hit .500 for the first time in 3 years, a litmus test arrived tonight for the team against the Vancouver Canucks. How would this young, freshly rebuilt Sabres squad respond?
I had hoped to see the Sabres facing a familiar face in Ryan Miller tonight, but that was not to be. The first period was, to put it bluntly, very bland and boring.
The lackluster and timid play by both sides continued into the second period. The Sabres were lacking a gear, and seemed befuddled as to how to find it. Kyle Okposo was a lone bright spot with flashes of skill, while the defense lacked fluidity and chemistry. Jannick Hansen broke the nail-biting scoreless tie halfway through the period, with helpers from Brandon Sutter and Luca Sbisa. It was the 100th career goal for Hansen.
The unentertaining affair moved onto the third period, where Buffalo gave up their first power-play goal of the year to Daniel Sedin, for a 2-0 Canucks lead. Two minutes later, Nic Deslauriers was credited with a goal after a shot caromed off approximately three Canucks players, and ended up in the net. Slightly more exciting, now that the game became 2-1.
A minute later, Buffalo was gifted a power-play, and a prime opportunity to tie the game, but Bo Horvat caught them acting as if they were shorthanded, and a Rasmus Ristolainen hooking penalty negated the possibilities of gaining points. Shortly thereafter, the Sabres were caught with six skaters floating around the ice. Vancouver then blandly held onto their slim lead, to improve to 4-0 so far this season.
The Sabres lacked any energy or jump in this matchup, right from the opening faceoff. I feel sorry for any Buffalo fans that stayed up late to watch this putrid display. Coach Dan Bylsma seemingly did nothing effective to inject anything to inspire the team tonight. The fans all want to talk about potential playoff possibilities, but watching tonight against a mediocre Canucks team that is bewilderingly now undefeated, the doubts temporarily set in.
Yes, we are missing Jack Eichel and Evander Kane, but the team needs to exude more energy than this. Vancouver played like a road team, at home, and the Sabres couldn't have a better response. It was like Buffalo skated out a scoring line, and three 4th lines.
Buffalo now has a long break until Tuesday, when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers, to regroup and consider the crappy performance put on tonight.
1. Will Buffalo finally win a game in Vancouver, with Miller out?
Nope. Jacob Markstrom was strong between the pipes, not giving up juicy rebounds.
2. Who will continue their scoring streak tonight?
No one. But rookie Nick Baptiste did get his maiden NHL goal in just his second game.
3. Will Buffalo’s special teams continue to be special?
Nope. Sabres went 0-5 on the power play, and then gave up their 100% penalty killing record too, ending the streak at 11. The Canucks had previously nto scored a single powerplay goal in twelve attempts this season.