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Recap: Sabres go on Christmas break early, lose 3-1 to Carolina

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Another slow start doomed the Sabres in a very poor pre-holiday effort.

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images

Over their past few games, the Buffalo Sabres have been developing an extremely worrying, yet familiar, habit. Every game seems like it takes them at least a period to get going, but last night against the Hurricanes, they took it to a new level.

The Sabres took two full periods to find their legs last night, and ended up digging themselves a hole too deep to crawl out of in a 3-1 loss to the ‘Canes.

Despite all their talk in the morning skate about the importance of a good start, it took less than two minutes for Carolina to open the scoring, thanks to Jeff Skinner’s 13th goal of the year. Justin Faulk, not to be confused with Justin Falk, added a second goal before the period ended to put the Sabres in a 2-0 hole.

Guess a good start wasn’t that important after all.

By the time Johan Larsson cut the lead to one mid-way through the third period, the Sabres had already been outshot 19-12 through two periods, taken four penalties in the second, and were giving up more odd-man rushes than the kids did during intermission.

Oh, and among all this nonsense, we had to wonder why Jack Eichel was not on either power play unit when the Hurricanes took their first penalty of the game.

Yep, you read that right. Jack Eichel - yes, THAT Jack Eichel - rode the pine for the full two minutes while the Sabres flailed around against the league’s #1 power play unit.

According to reports, Eichel was fuming after the game, but kept his cool while speaking to reporters, saying only, “That’s the coaches decision.” And what did the coach have to say? Here are all of Bylsma’s comments from the article linked above:

“The decision was just something we practiced today and implemented in the game. We wanted a certain look, didn't get the result we wanted. He went back on the power play for a different look when we got the second opportunity.”

“What we need to see [from Eichel] is what we saw in the first shift of his game that he had tonight. I thought he had at times tonight for us that speed and electricity with the puck.”

Now, my hockey knowledge couldn’t fill a thimble compared to Bylsma’s, but it seems fairly obvious that keeping your best offensive player away from your top offensive opportunity is not the way that a team which has struggled to score all season should operate.

What, was he five minutes late to a meeting? Did he violate the dress code by wearing the wrong shoes? I’m sure all the fans that had to sit through this train wreck appreciated the message.

Two Questions

1. Who will come out on top - the Sabres power play or the Canes PK?

‘Canes PK by a mile, thanks to the Sabres neutering their own power play.

2. Can this game please not go to a shootout?

Sure.

Comment of the Game

Bottom line.

If you can’t beat Carolina in regulation at least once in two games in the same week, you’re not that good.

Posted by PopeInTheWoods