Score: Sabres 1 | Senators 4
Shots: BUF 30 | OTT 40
Buffalo Sabres Goals:
1) Thompson (Dahlin, Tuch)
Ottawa Senators Goals:
1) Watson (Sanderson, Kelly)
2) Tkachuk (Sanderson, Stutzle)
3) DeBrincat (Joseph, Hamonic)
4) Stulzle (Holden)
Minus 1: Putrid Power Play
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Sabres struggled to set up their powerplay and squandered numerous chances with the man advantage. That statement can describe many games this season but is no more exemplified by the horrendous performance against the Senators. With a whopping 8 chances on the powerplay, Buffalo only managed one goal off a booming shot from Tage Thompson but failed to take advantage of the parade of penalties provided by Ottawa. There is too much offensive talent of the Sabres roster to be this consistently inept on the man advantage. Adjustments need to be made or Buffalo might consider lobbying the league for an option to decline opponents’ penalties.
Minus 2: Let Disappointment Ring
Early in the first, Jeff Skinner made a slick move and rang a backhand off the post. This was a preview of a frustrating night for Sabres forwards. Not only did they squander a breakaway and a 2 on 0 in the same shift, but they would also add two more posts to Skinner early dinger. Notably, in the 3rd, Peterka used his speed to blow by 3 Senator defenders, beat Forsberg but couldn’t conquer the post. It just rubs salt in the wound after Tuesday’s high scoring affair to be followed up by a snake bitten night.
Minus 3: Shallow Depth
The Sabres have a top line, two other consistent forwards, two quality defensemen and not much else. The forward group struggles to put together anything resembling consistent pressure outside the top line. At times, Cozens and Peterka flash youthful brilliance, but depth scoring has largely been scarce during the current losing streak. The team has reverted to an offense driven by one line, and it has a predictable result. Teams can accept that the Thompson line will control play when they’re out there, but they’re winning against the other three lines on a nightly basis. Whether it’s a reconfiguring of the forward group (again) or an altered scheme, this offense needs more than one consistent threat.
The defense can be cut some slack due to injuries, but with only Samuelsson out at this point, that excuse is close to invalid. Outside of Dahlin and Power, there has been no consistent performers on defense. Dahlin played 28 minutes in this one after playing nearly 29 on the previous night. This is not a recipe for success. Dahlin looked fatigued in the 3rd and the absurd number of minutes is leading to less effective play in the closing minutes. The top players must play like top players for teams to win. However, the other players need to at least useful for any sustained success.
With a snowstorm barreling down on Buffalo, this Sabres team seems to be caught in an avalanche of disappointing results. Seven straight losses have extinguished any goodwill the team bought themselves with their impressive start to the season. There needs to be more balance throughout the lineup as the team has become top heavy once again. This is a young team that is struggling to stop the bleeding. Hopefully, a rivalry game against the Leafs will reignite the fire Buffalo played with in October.