Question Marks Surrounding The Crease
As the Buffalo Sabres come off of a home split with the New Jersey Devils, the young team has many question marks in the early parts of the 2021 season. The Sabres took game one of the season series thanks to a remarkable effort in goal by Linus Ullmark. Ullmark stopped 31 of 34 shots to secure the shootout win. The second game went to the Devils to the tune of a 5-3 victory in which Carter Hutton was given the cage.
Hutton, the 35 year old goaltender, has struggled to keep the Sabres in contention in many of his recent contests. Although he made 32 saves on 36 shots in his most recent appearance, he holds just a .895 save percentage through four games this season. Both Ullmark ( six games played) and Hutton (four games played) have been sharing the workload thus far. Going forward, it may be in the Sabres best interest to give Linus Ullmark the spotlight for the time being. Ullmark, 27, has performed notably better posting a .914 save percentage throughout his six games. In addition, since the passing of Ullmark’s father, the netminder has found a second gear within his play.
Offense Is Mandatory
Aside from the Buffalo Sabres’ goaltending question marks, the team has lacked offensive production from those in which they need it most. Captain Jack Eichel leads the team with 11 points through 10 games, however only two of those points are goals. The teams scoring leader is youngster Victor Olofsson with four goals on the season, followed closely by Sam Reinhart at three goals.
Taylor Hall, a first year Sabre, has struggled early to find chemistry with his new squad posting only one goal through ten games as a Sabre. To add to the list of challenges, Sam Reinhart has not played for the team since January 28. His last game was a 3-2 loss against the New York Rangers. Reinhart is currently dealing with an upper body injury and has not yet been given a return date.
Keys Going Forward
As the team prepares to hit the road for their first two games of the season against the New York Islanders, there is still more than a glimmer of hope for the rest of the year. Through ten games, the Sabres sit a half point out of the forth playoff spot in the East division. The Islanders sit just one game back from the Sabres but with one game in hand.
The biggest key going forward for the Sabres outside of the production issues, both offensive and defensive listed above, is winning and doing so in regulation. In those ten games the Sabres have had four go past regulation. Winning outside of regulation awards their opponent a point as well. It is critical for the Sabres to pull away from other teams as the season progresses, as well as close the gaps between the teams ahead of them. Winning games in regulation will provide an added boost that becomes even more important than it would over the course of an 82 game season in which you play out of conference teams.
The Sabres play the New York Islanders on February 2 with puck drop is scheduled for 6pm est.
“From Our Haus to Yours“