Score: Chicago: 4, Buffalo: 1
Shots: BUF-34, CHI-27
Chicago Goalscorers: Kirby Dach(2), Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Buffalo Goalscorers: Eichel
There are three Buffalo Sabres with more than one goal in the month of November. Sam Reinhart has two. Henri Jokiharu has two. Jack Eichel has seven. The team as a whole has 15 - three players account for 73 percent of the team’s goal production in November. This is not how games are won. This is not how seasons are successful. One of the key components to Buffalo’s success early on was depth scoring, and while it’s great to see the young defender start to put up some points, depth scoring has been an issue.
Minus-1: Make me pretty
The Sabres have a tendency to make a goaltender look good. The team routinely puts at least an average amount of shots on goal, but statistically, fails to put those shots behind the goaltender into the designated scoring area. It is difficult to say whether or not shot selection plays a part in this inefficiency, but whatever they are doing, it is not working.
Minus-1: Who the...is Kirby Dach?
Seriously. This is a team that hasn’t seen success recently, and part of the reason for that is they sunk a lot of resources into Pat Kane and Jonathan Toews. It gave management little room to support these two superstars. But they have apparently done a solid job scouting, because Dach annihilated the Sabres tonight, and no one saw that coming.
The Buffalo Sabres began the third period down 2-0 and on the power play. Not only did they fail to score, but 90 seconds after the advantage expired, the Blackhawks put the game out of reach, with Kane scoring his 11th goal on the season. Buffalo has fallen to tenth in the league on the power play and thirteenth on the road. When the team was successful, the power play was unstoppable. With four opportunities tonight, the power play could have turned the tide against an opponent that is 19th in the NHL on the penalty kill.
The team failed to take advantage of the Blackhawks, who could have been beaten. The Sabres had a chance to capitalize on the momentum built from captain Jack Eichel’s performance just 20 hours earlier, and came into the game uninspired. The disappointing loss does little to stop the spiral back beyond the mean to the bottom of the standings once again.
It doesn’t get any easier from here. Minnesota, Boston, Florida, and Tampa lie on the horizon. There are a lot of things Buffalo needs to do in order to improve the outcomes of these games, but in the end, what it really comes down to is that the team needs to win. The Buffalo Sabres need to win games. It’s perhaps over-simplified, but there is no other way to define the situation the Sabres are in. As the first quarter of the season passes, the team has put itself in a situation of desperation already. The tide needs to turn, or else another meaningless season will have passed.