Score: Flyers 3 | Sabres 0
Shots: PHI 38 | BUF 28
Sabres Goals: None
Flyers Goals: Sean Couturier (5), Michael Raffl (3), James van Riemsdyk (10)
Minus-1 | Where Do We Even Start?
There was nothing to like about the Buffalo Sabres’ play in either contest this weekend. Both today, and yesterday the blue-and-gold was completely overmatched by a superior Philadelphia Flyers squad.
The Sabres’ even-strength woes are nothing new, but the futility of the team’s league-leading power-play unit added a new dimension of despair. Jack Eichel’s return from a lower-body injury did not lead to any sort of spark. As is tradition, Buffalo has effectively packed it in before the month of March.
Only this time, the season didn’t begin until January, so there’s that.
Minus-2 | More Head-Scratching Coaching Decisions
From the start of this afternoon’s contest, the Sabres’ line combinations were a mess. Jeff Skinner remained on the fourth line (hey, at least he’s playing now), and Kyle Okposo served as a lead anchor beside Eric Staal and Taylor Hall. That line that produced an xGF rate of just over 33-percent in this one. Amazingly, only one forward trio actually fared better, which is just nothing short of incredible.
The Perpetually struggling Cody Eakin and Tobias Rieder were not in fact catalyzed by Casey Mittelstadt’s presence in any way. That group carried an even-strength xGF rate of just 10.34-percent (which was STILL not a team-low).
Only three Sabres finished the day with positive xG shares (Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner, and surprisingly, Brandon Davidson). At the risk of having the cliche police called on me, this had the look of a team that has quit on the coaching staff.
But hey, at least they have their “core principles” to fall back on, right?
Minus 3 | Record Breakers
After yesterday’s loss, Dimitri Filipovic of the PDOcast tweeted an interesting factoid about the Sabres’ five-on-five scoring woes in 2020-21.
The 2021 Buffalo Sabres have now passed the 2014 Buffalo Sabres for lowest 5v5 goals/60 in a season that we have record of— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 27, 2021
Obviously, today’s performance did nothing to help the fact that Ralph Krueger’s squad is on pace to become the most futile even-strength scoring team in NHL history. Yes, somehow worse than the 2014-15 Sabres team that was constructed with the sole intent of losing games.
Any logical team would be strongly considering a coaching change at this point. Just last week the Montreal Canadiens fired Claude Julien, and he had a winning record! There’s a counter argument for “continuity” here, but on a team that has Eichel, Hall, Reinhart, Skinner and Stall up front, there is simply no excuse for this degree of failure on offense.
Fortunately, we all get a day off before this team takes the ice again. The next contest is this coming Tuesday against the New York Rangers. Puck drop is set for 7:00PM.