Score: Bruins 4 | Sabres 1
Shots: BOS 37 | BUF 24
Bruins Goals: Greg McKegg (1), Jake DeBrusk (3), Craig Smith (5), David Pastrnak (14)
Sabres Goals: Kyle Okposo (1)
Minus-1 | Carter Hutton and the Defense
After posting career-low numbers during the 2019-20 campaign, some felt that Hutton’s now resolved vision troubles were a reason for optimism. Unfortunately, the corrective procedures haven’t resulted in an improvement.
Leading up to tonight’s contest, the 35-year-old held the 14th-lowest GSAx rate (-6.56) among netminders who have played a minimum of five games this year (of which there are 65). Tonight, Hutton stopped 33 of the 37 shots he faced, but it’s worth noting that his defense did him no favors.
Compounding on this problem is that, in terms of a “per-game” rate, Jonas Johansson has fared even worse. The Buffalo Sabres desperately miss Linus Ullmark, and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, they’ll be lucky to win another game without him. Buffalo’s xGA rates on defense have plummeted, and only excellent goaltending can absolve them right now.
Minus 2 | The Rieder-Eakin-Okposo Line
What else is new, right? For what feels like the hundredth consecutive game, the trio of Tobias Rieder, Cody Eakin, and Kyle Okposo lost the on-ice xG battle. The Boston Bruins dominated offensive possession when this trio was on the ice, resulting in a group xGF rate of just 20.83-percent on the evening.
It also doesn’t help that this line got the second-most ice time at even-strength against a the Bruins’ scoring lines. They also started in the defensive zone 75-percent of the time. Their continued usage as a store-brand version of last season’s “LOG Line” continues to be an act of futility.
Minus 3 | Lucky Number 13
After tonight, the Sabres are just one loss away from tying a franchise record for consecutive defeats. The last time Buffalo lost this many games in-a-row was during the 2014-15 season when their roster was intentionally designed to lose games. That was the same year that the franchise record for consecutive losses was set at 14.
Maybe Don Granato can work some “new coach magic” and squeeze out a victory on Saturday afternoon against this same Boston team. If not, his club will earn another badge of shame in what has been the most embarrassing campaign in franchise history.
Puck drop for Saturday’s matinee matchup is set for 1:00 PM.