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One-Dimensional Thinking is Hurting the Sabres

As time goes on, it seems that thinking inside the box is hurting the overall performance of this squad.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

When the Sabres took the ice on Monday morning, the entire starting lineup found itself thrown into a line blender.

Offensive stars Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart and Jeff Skinner now find themselves all on their own lines.

In the grand scheme of things, diversifying the offensive side of your hockey team does not sound like a bad idea but in this scenario, it reeks of desperation.

It has been discussed ad nauseam, but since their winning streak ended on November 29, the Sabres have gone from the penthouse to the outhouse in most aspects.

If words do not tell that story well-enough, basic statistics should do the trick.

From October 3 to November 28, the Buffalo Sabres were the talk of the town - a surprising 36 points in 25 games (17-6-2) will do that for you.

Heading into Monday night’s game with the Minnesota Wild, Buffalo is 30th in the NHL with 20 points (8-14-4) in 26 games.

The offense has only trailed off a little - 76 goals in the first 25 games, compared to 69 goals in the last 26 games – but their performance leaves a lot to be desired.

Offensively, the power play is a big issue - which has fallen almost 6% since November.

Looking defensively, goals allowed has also become one of the bigger issues for this team.

In their first 25 games, Buffalo allowed 68 goals – 11th in the league. In the 26 games since they have allowed 87 goals – 21st in the league.

When it comes to figuring out where the hammer drops, Phil Housley clued us in a little on Monday morning.

In his weekly radio appearance on WGR, Housley pointed out that Carter Hutton started over Linus Ullmark following a 1-0 loss in Dallas solely because of the loss, not because of his actual overall performance.

The game in which Hutton started? A 7-3 loss to a Chicago Blackhawks team that currently sits in 14th in the Western Conference.

Fresh with those comments in hand, it seems safe to presume that things are very black-and-white over at the KeyBank Center - which makes a lot of sense when you look at how other decisions have been made.

It begs the question - why would the Sabres keep forward Remi Elie around since October, despite having much more capable talent in Rochester?

Elie goes from being a healthy scratch in seven straight games to getting a start against his old team - a signature Phil Housley move - and then being made the sacrificial lamb, following the aforementioned embarrassing loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

C.J. Smith finally gets a fair shake - it appears - but with how things have gone up to this point, it remains a mystery as to how short of a leash Smith actually has.

With Buffalo taking on water at a rapid pace, it should be pointed out that they are very surprisingly only three points out of an Eastern Conference Wild Card berth.

The teams ahead of Buffalo for that final spot are starting to create some breathing room, which means the time is now for this team to put up or shut up.

From the outside looking in, it used to seem like there was a large amount of method to the somewhat small amount of madness behind the bench.

As the season has progressed, we have come to find out that those roles might actually be reversed.

With the Trade Deadline rapid approaching, cynicism growing at an unhealthy pace and their grip on a potential playoff berth weakening, what does this team need to do to right the ship before it is too late?