Shots: Sabres 28 | Rangers 39
Sabres Goal Scorers: Zemgus Girgensons (10), Sam Reinhart (20), Jimmy Vesey (8)
Rangers Goal Scorers: Mika Zibanejad (22), Chris Kreider (20)
Plus-1: A Much-Needed Victory
Obviously, it’s been rough sailing for the Buffalo Sabres following the NHL All-Star break. After an ugly loss to the last-place Detroit Red Wings last night, it was nice to see a little life from a team that was booed out of their own building 24 hours earlier.
Getting off to a hot start was critical in this one against a team that plays a fast, high-event style of hockey. It wasn’t a perfect effort, and out of the Rangers’ 39 shots, a high-concentration of them were the high-danger variety, but with some strong goal-tending, ans opportunistic play up front, they managed to hold off New York’s come back attempt.
Plus-2: Strong Effort by Hutton
There’s no getting around it - the 2019-20 campaign has been the worst outing of Carter Hutton’s career. With a record of 7-9-4 and a save-percentage of .876 leading up to tonight’s game, his 37-save performance was critical. As referenced above, the veteran netminder saw a lot of action from the slot tonight, but was able to hold strong and secure just his second win in his last 11 starts.
It’s been rumored that, depending on Linus Ullmark’s availability, the Sabres could shop Hutton at the trade deadline. If they hope to salvage any interest in him whatsovver, they’ll need him to string together more performances like this one down the stretch,
Minus-1: The Sheary-Johansson-Frolik Line
While the Sabres’ depth scoring ranks did make a couple appearances in this one, the de-facto second line was an absolute disaster. With a relative xGF of -14.71-percent, and a relative Corsi rating of -26.24-percent, they were easily the worst trio on the ice for either side.
Since his arrival last month, Michael Frolik has provided almost nothing in the form of scoring reinforcement, registering a mere two points in 11 games with the blue-and-gold. As perhaps the most valuable rental asset on the Sabres’ roster, Conor Sheary’s inconsistency as a top-six player remains a problem.
Over the last 10 games, these three players have combined for one goal and three assists. Buffalo needs more from all three of them as we approach the final two months of the season.
Plus-3: Boost Those Trade Values, Baby!
While Sheary and Frolik certainly didn’t do anything to help their respective trade values tonight, Zemgus Girgensons and Jimmy Vesey did. Now with 10 goals on the season, Girgensons has reached his highest season-total since notching 15 in 2014-15. As a former first-round pick, there may be some interest for a team looking to acquire a defensively responsible, penalty-killing forward for their playoff push.
While the Sabres may never get back what they invested for Vesey this past summer (traded a third-round pick to the Rangers), but the more he’s able to produce over the next few weeks, the better. His cap hit noght be a little tougher to deal, unless the Sabres retain some salary, but there’s a chance. Plus, it’s always nice to see someone bury one against their former club.