Fresh off of a disjointed road loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night, the Buffalo Sabres took to home ice for a matinee matchup hosting the youthful New Jersey Devils, hoping for their first win of the season.
By the end of the second period, the hometown crowd was wishing for their money back, booing the Sabres into the dressing room. Around the same time, I turned the game off - household chores needed to be done, and I deemed doing dishes more entertaining than watching another minute of the atrociously anaemic Sabres.
$80 million man Jack Eichel was invisible. Taking on a contract such as that entails putting the team on your shoulders, which he was incapable of doing this afternoon. In fact, Eichel was playing as if he didn't need a contract, while Evander Kane again played like he deserves a large one. Ryan O'Reilly played like he didn't want to be in Buffalo anymore, for the third straight game.
Chad Johnson took the start in goal. He was no better than Robin Lehner two days ago. The lackluster Buffalo defense repeatedly provided the Devils with 2 on 1's, and Johnson played them as if he was trying to teach the defense a lesson.
New toy Nathan Beaulieu, for the second straight game, played as if he was out to prove that one team's trash isn't always another teams treasure.
Rasmus Ristolainen, who had previously been evolving into a beast for Buffalo, had another game where he seemed timid with his play. It's slightly alarming to have a Hall Of Fame defenseman for a coach in Phil Housley who has his top defender playing so dismally. The rest of the defense was utterly disgusting as well this evening.
Beyond star Eichel being invisible, and leader O'Reilly being abysmal, many other pieces looked disjointed. Benoit Pouliot. Matt Moulson. Seth Griffith and Matt Tennyson looked like AHLers today. Johan Larsson and Jacob Josefson were both a plus-minus of -2.
Granted, many of us knew these outcomes initially could happen. Almost half of the roster is new. New coach. New GM. New systems. Potentially 1-2 months for the team to get on the same page. These excuses/ explanations do not absolve the fact that the team should at least be competitive. The last two games, the team, other than Kane, has mostly floated, lacked energy, and seemed disinterested. As I stated in my reaction piece on Saturday - it is no wonder that this Sabres squad was unable to name a captain for the season. These performances in the last two games show why.
With a few days off before beginning a west coast trip against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, let's hope Housley can get his players motivated and invigorated to attempt to compete for their first win in 2017-18.