Shots on Goal: Sabres 26 | Bruins 22
Sabres Goal Scorers: Rasmus Ristolainen (4), Curtis Lazar (2)
Bruins Goal Scorers: David Pastrnak (29), Jake DeBrusk (10, 11)
Minus-1: Lack of Discipline
In a game that was somewhat evenly-matched at five-on-five, the Buffalo Sabres committed five penalties (not including Sam Reinhart’s minor with :17 remaining in the third). The Boston Bruins were able to capitalize twice with the man-advantage, and that ultimately ended up being the difference in this one.
The Sabres currently hold the fourth-worst penalty-kill rate in the league at 74.7-percent. Playing against one of, if not the best team in the Eastern Conference (who also converts on the power-play at over a 26-percent clip), skating for virtually half a period shorthanded isn’t a recipe for success.
Plus-1: Rasmus Asplund
There hasn’t been a lot to be excited about in the Sabres’ bottom-six forward ranks this year, but Asplund has certainly been an exception. Since his call-up from Rochester last month, the 22-year-old appears to have cemented a permanent role with the big club.
Though his three points in 21 games won’t jump off the page, his contributions as a defensive forward, and on the penalty-kill have been noticeable. From a scoring standpoint, it will be interesting to see if Ralph Kruger gives him an extended look alongside some of the team’s skill forwards in the coming weeks. Asplund has generated a few nice opportunities, but his lines have lacked the ability to finish.
Minus-2: Dahlin’s Ice Time
This topic seems like a recurring discussion point, but tonight was another prime example of Rasmus Dahlin needing more ice time at even-strength. With a mark of 15:10 tonight he was third on the team among defensemen. His relative xGF mark of 20.51 was the best on the Sabres’ blue line.
Since his return from the nasty concussion he suffered against the Tampa Bay Lightning last month, Dahlin’s game has recovered after a rough start to 2019-20. It’s time for the coaching staff to start using him as a go-to defender, not just on the man-advantage, but at five-on-five as well.
Even: Hanging Tough
The term “beating themselves” seems a bit cliche at times, but the Sabres kept pace with a very strong group on the road tonight. The aforementioned disciplinary mistakes combined with a continued futility on the power-play hurt them the most.
Overall, the Sabres won the Corsi, and xG battle as a team, they just couldn’t recover from getting scored on twice during Johan Larsson’s double-minor during the third period. If they can produce the same level of play at even-strength as they showed tonight (and make their special teams units even remotely respectable), they have a chance to keep themselves in games against tough opponents during the second half of the season.