The Sabres had a chance to gain some ground after handily defeating the hated Flyers on Tuesday night. Instead, they blew it in Tampa Bay, letting go of an early lead by taking needless penalties, and then let another early lead go in Raleigh in a loss to the hapless Carolina Hurricanes. This is not the response of a playoff team. This is the response of a young, fledgling team who is still learning its identity and learning what it takes to give 60 minutes every night in the National Hockey League.
Here are some of my in game thoughts from the two on the road:
Sabres lose 4-2 to Tampa Bay
- Moulson got a nice goal
- What do you think is going to happen when you give the lightning a 5-3 advantage? They lead the league in power play goals and then you go and commit a penalty on the penalty kill Evander Kane? Stupid play to do that in that situation
- Tampa called for a penalty with 8:52 remaining. What a nice cross ice pass by Bailey to Kane for a one timer chance before Tampa touched it up for the whistle. Bailey showing some vision.
- The power play was really weak, no shots generated
The first period was played at a frenetic pace with the lightning dominating for the majority of it. Moulson’s goal went against the flow as it was the Sabres first shot on net of the period. That goal gave them some momentum but it was almost immediately lost when Buffalo took two penalties and gave the Lightning a 5-3 power play. The Lightning have the top power play in the league and they made no mistake, deftly moving the puck and scoring on the two-man advantage. The Sabres killed the remaining penalty off and things settled down. The Lightning continuously tried to dump and chase the puck, but the Sabres D men quickly retrieved the pucks and got them out of the zone to relieve the pressure that Tampa was trying to apply. Tampa brought an onslaught and the Sabres weathered the storm as best they could. The first period ended fairly, tied at 1.
Why are there so many Taco Bell commercials on the Sabres broadcasts? First of all, from what I know, Buffalo is a Mighty Taco city, and it’s a thing that people who move away miss. Second, there aren’t even any Taco Bells in the city. Who are these ads targeting? The only Taco Bells I know of are KFC/Taco Bells and one is on Transit in East Amherst, and the other is in South Buffalo. Why aren’t there any on the West Side or in North Buffalo? I like Taco Bell and it’s unfair to see all their commercials and not have any near me to get my Nachos Bell Grande and Cheesy Gordita Crunch fix.
- Bad rebound given up by Nilsson on a harmless shot from the left circle, and Palat gets his second of the game. Not a good play by Nilsson.
- Sabres having trouble generating chances against the speedy Lightning.
- Terrible play by the Sabres on the Tampa rush, and Kucherov gets the 3rd Lightning goal of the night. They left him wide open on the right side of the net and Hedman hit him with a nice cross ice pass. He ripped a wrist shot past helpless Nilsson.
- Sabres get a power play right after Tampa’s goal. O’Reilly got high sticked by Bishop.
- Sabres power play is useless tonight, can’t generate any offense with a man advantage.
- The majority of the period was weak, another crap second period, but it ended with some fireworks. Marcus Foligno got tied up with Victor Hedman in front of Tampa’s net as the buzzer sounded. Hedman was holding his stick and Foligno yanked it out of his grasp. As Bishop skated by Foligno he chirped at him and Foligno shoved him up high. Hedman took offense and shoved Foligno and they both dropped the gloves. Hedman hugged Foligno but Marcus got his right arm loose and landed some haymakers on Hedman. They spun around and Foligno eased up and let Hedman back into the fight. Hedman pulled Foligno’s jersey over his head and got in a shot before the linesmen stepped in and ended the fight. It was a good fight though and maybe it will help to spark the Sabres going into the third.
- Sabres basically start the third off with a power play and it is completely ineffective. We had a man advantage and could barely get a shot on net. Tampa did not even look like they were down a man. Pretty bad.
- Sabres finally get some offensive pressure. Bishop lost his stick and the Sabres moved the puck around the zone. Eichel found Kane in front of the net and he banged home a goal. 3-2 Lightning. The Sabres go back on the power play because Ben Bishop got a delay of game penalty for knocking the net off its moorings.
- Again, the power play is useless tonight.
- Foligno got in another fight, this time against Paquette, but Gionta got a roughing call on the same play and the Sabres go on the penalty kill again.
- Kane got a double minor for high sticking penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct. He also got a misconduct and is done for the game.
- Sabres pull Nilsson to even the men on the ice and Tampa gets an empty net goal.
Sabres lose 5-2 to Carolina
- Goal! Carrier, turnover by the Canes, O’Reilly picks it up and hits Carrier for the tap in, nice goal, good start.
- Sabres have come out strong to start tonight after just coming up short last night.
- Good strong period by the Sabres. They took a couple weak penalties but killed them off and go into intermission up 1-0.
- They need to keep up the intensity going into the second.
At this point, I went out to Snyder Bar and Grill for the rest of the game so I don’t have any more play by play notes. Suffice to say, with Jeff Skinner scoring two goals in about 30 seconds on the drive over there, the rest of the game was pretty much a joke. Gionta had a nice goal on a misplay by Cam Ward, where he banked the puck in off wards leg, but other than that, this game Sucked.
A couple of takeaways- It was Falk or Fedun, I can’t remember but the point is still the same. On the play against Stahl where he got called for tripping. In that situation, the guy is on the boards and not a threat to beat you or score. Don’t put your stick into his skates! Let him hold the puck on the wall, contain him into the corner, body him. and let your partner come and help out. It was a needless tripping call and I am just going to chalk it up, again, to this team being young and inexperienced. These guys are still learning, but it’s really painful to watch this team lose. I mean, we’ve been doing it for the last 5 years, but it still stings to lose to these Sun Belt teams that have no business having hockey teams. It’s pathetic. There must have been maybe 8 to 10 thousand people at the game on Friday night. That’s a joke. Good job NHL, and now you’re putting a team in Las Vegas? I’m sure that’s gonna be a success, just like the Atlanta Thrashers were. It’s ridiculous too because Tampa has an awesome team, Florida has some really good players and plays good exciting hockey. If you contract the league instead of expanding into useless markets, more good players would be available for teams that are in places where the people actually CARE about hockey! The level of play is already highly diluted, plus with an 82 game schedule, guys get worn down and the quality of the product is not consistent on a night to night basis. Reduce the number of franchises, reduce the length of the season, and make Hockey Great Again! Lol, seriously, did I just use a famous catch phrase?
At this point, I’m looking forward to the trading deadline. Yes, I still want to watch Magic Jack do great things and yes, I still want to watch O’Reilly give 110% every night. But the reality is, this team isn’t going anywhere and the playoffs are most definitely not happening this season. We need a #1 goalie, a stay at home left handed defenseman, and a Sniper to put on the top line with Ryan and Kyle. Hopefully Murray will make some moves at the deadline and position the roster for success next year.
Top 5 potential trade pieces:
We have Dallas tomorrow in a MLK day matinee. Should be exciting…not.