Final Score: Flyers 6 | Sabres 1
Shots on Goal: Flyers 29 | Sabres 17
Sabres Goal Scorers: Victor Olofsson (15)
Flyers Goal Scorers: Mikhail Vorobyev (1), James van Riemsdyk (9, 10), Matt Niskanen (5), Ivan Provorov (8), Tyler Pitlick (3)
Minus 1: Special Teams Need Help
Where do I even begin to write a recap of Thursday night’s game?
The Sabres were flat all over the place, but one area that stood out - in a bad way - was their special teams play. Three of Philadelphia’s six goals came on the power play. One of those goals came just five seconds into the man advantage, when Rasmus Ristolainen had barely sat down in the penalty box. Another came on a power play that the Flyers got after an unsuccessful challenge by the Sabres, when they were already down 2-0.
Overall, the Flyers went 3-for-5 on the power play.
If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.
Minus 2: Own Goals Are Not Fun
Three of the Flyers’ goals went into the net off of a Sabres player. Conor Sheary inadvertently tipped in Philadelphia’s first goal; another went in off Ristolainen’s skate. It was just a small piece of what made Thursday night’s game downright painful to watch, at least if you’re a Sabres fan. Carter Hutton allowed six goals on 29 shots, and overall, the Sabres managed only 17 shots - including nine in the first 40 minutes of play, when the Flyers already had six goals.
Minus 3: Eichel’s Absence
Captain Jack Eichel did not play on Thursday night. He did participate in the morning skate and pregame warmup, but the Sabres announced roughly five minutes before puck drop that he’d be out. Head coach Ralph Krueger was a bit mysterious about the whole thing, and all we know for sure at this point is that it’s an “upper-body injury.”
Ralph Krueger was very strange on Jack Eichel: “It was something that evolved in warm-ups, so we‘ll just look at the situation and get back to you tomorrow on that. ... Let’s not speak about the specifics right now. We’ll fill you in once we’ve assessed the situation.”— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) December 20, 2019
It’s bad enough to be missing your captain and one of the only players producing offensively. Eichel’s absence was obviously felt, and it’s troubling to see how bad the Sabres’ effort was without him:
"Losing Jack right before the game, that’s a time for guys to step up and nobody did it." - Kyle Okposo— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) December 20, 2019
Over the course of the game, the Sabres also lost two more forwards to injury. Johan Larsson didn't return to the game after playing only a few short shifts early in the second period. Later in the game, Evan Rodrigues went down and out after blocking a shot with his leg.
We should know more soon, and if necessary, the Sabres could recall a forward from the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Victor Olofsson continues to shine, as he had the only goal for the Sabres in Thursday’s loss.
Buffalo is back in action on Saturday afternoon for a 1 p.m. puck drop against the Los Angeles Kings on home ice.