As the Sabres prepared for yesterdays game in Chicago, there had to be some mention of what happened two days earlier. Perhaps there wasn’t, maybe the team is trying to move on in any way possible. Even if the 5-0 loss to Detroit wasn’t spoken of, it had to weigh heavy on the minds of the players. Yet, there didn’t seem to be much response.
Buffalo kept things close through the first 25 minutes, but ultimately suffered another tough loss, 6-2. Through the first three games of the road trip, the Sabres have surrendered 15 goals while scoring only four. Saddle the goaltenders with as much blame as you please, but the team is not playing well enough defensively or scoring nearly enough goals to identify one singular aspect as the main problem.
Much of the focus on this loss is going to be focused on Ville Leino’s drop pass that turned out to be the secondary assist on the game-winning goal. Make no mistake, Leino made a horrible choice in dropping that puck in the faceoff circle with no real support. It was an egregious error and can’t be overlooked. However, there was actually some sound reasoning behind the choice. Leino clearly had Drew Stafford breaking to him and a successful pass would have created a 2-on-1. Unfortunately, Stafford broke to the slot rather than trailing the puck and the play went the opposite direction. So, there was a damn good reason as to Leino’s thought process and why he made that choice, it just doesn’t outweigh the fact that putting his head down and getting to the paint would have been a better choice.
The Sabres look like a team simply going through the motions. Questioning the team’s passion is quite a difficult feat when you have no first-hand experience with this particular group. But seeing certain plays and games develop, there seems to be a few missing pieces in the heart/desire department. There are a few players who are obviously going balls-out regardless of the current situation (Pominville, Vanek, Gerbe to name a few), there are just many who don’t seem to be truly sold on trying to win every game. Again, a tough opinion to form without being in the locker room, but that is what seems to be happening on a nightly basis.
- Jhonas Enroth could have used a better night. He made some big saves early, but didn’t look sharp on many of the Chicago goals. Hossa’s breakaway showed he still has some work to do in that department (yes, it was a breakaway) and he had a few tough ones beat him later on. Obviously neither goalie is playing to the level they’re capable of, but they’re certainly not getting much help either. Once again, the issues with the Sabres go far beyond one singular aspect. Whether you want to point to management, coaching or the players; there are numerous issues at play, not just one.
- Mike Weber continues to fumble around. He was once a promising prospect who had the potential to be a steady 4-6 defender. Now he is touching the low end of that spectrum on his best day. What makes matters worse is that Weber is sitting third on the current depth chart – more or less.
- Luke Adam has had a few so-so efforts in recent weeks. That play led to his demotion to the third line. However, he still remains one of THREE players with double digits in the goal category. It might be time to stop worrying only about keeping every player within the system and finding some new ways to create offense. Of note, Buffalo’s best hockey came with Adam centering Vanek and Pominville.
- No player could really say they had a good night – aside from Jason Pominville – but Tyler Myers certainly had his moments. Myers seems as if he realized that his physical presence is one of the most important parts of his overall game. When he plays with finesse, he is no different than anyone else on the ice. When he is physical, he is a dominant force that possesses a frightening two-way game.