Final Score: Tampa Bay: 6, Buffalo: 4
Shots: BUF: 28, TB: 27
Buffalo Goalscorers: Conor Sheary, Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Vesey, Jack Eichel
Tampa Goalscorers: Andrej Palat, Alex Killorn (2), Tyler Johnson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Anthony Cirelli
Head Coach Ralph Krueger implored the depth forwards on the team to start putting the puck in the net, and they responded with applom, scoring three to give Buffalo an early lead, and to build upon that lead to a seemingly comfortable position within the game.
Minus-1: Goals against
There are few who believe that Linus Ullmark hasn’t established himself as the number one on the team. In only his second full professional season, it’s a bright spot on an otherwise dim season. Unfortunately, when he gets the scoring support like he did tonight, he generally drops the ball...er...puck. It wasn’t his best game, and the tragic part is that the team didn’t need his best game, they just needed him to be better than terrible. He wasn’t.
Minus-1: Special teams
The broken clock theory doesn’t even apply to this awful and ineffective aspect of Buffalo’s game right now. Once again, the team was 0-for on the power play and allowed two goals on five penalty kills; no one is going to win a game with a 60 percent kill success. Few teams are going to win a game with an 80 percent rate. Eliminate those two goals and it’s a tie. Score one on the power play and it’s a win. Again, the team just needed to be better than terrible. It wasn’t.
Plus-1: Jack Eichel
Eichel busted out an astounding goal that the NHL’s twitter account retweeted. How this man doesn’t go into the dressing room and just lay waste to everything not nailed down is beyond this writer. He continues to shine despite an ever-darkening environment that has to be sucking the soul out of this cherubim captain. Shine on, you crazy diamond. Please, for the love of everything holy...don’t stop.
EXCUSE US, @Jackeichel15!? pic.twitter.com/B3A3MDQy9f— NHL (@NHL) January 1, 2020
The much maligned move to bring Dalton Smith in the lineup took a solid cross-check to the bare spine when Kruger dropped him into the lineup for less than 90 seconds all night. He spent more time in the penalty box than on the ice. It is astounding how inept the front office seems at this point, and it just keeps getting worse. At least two players (a term used loosely) have asked for trades. The general manager has played them into a position where they have little-to-no value, rendering their request generally as pointless as Evan Rodrigues in the 2019-20 season. Zing.
More of the same across the board. An uninspired finish to an uninspired decade. Good riddance to bad rubbish.