The Sabres Losing Efforts Continue
The Buffalo Sabres continue to redefine their definition of rock bottom as their losing efforts linger. The Sabres lost back to back games this weekend to the Philadelphia Flyers. Both contests ended in a final score of 3-0 Philadelphia. Furthermore, the Sabres were out shot in both matchups, surrendering 39 and 38 shots in each game. The team sits at 6-10-3 and is in last place in the East Division and tied for last in the league with the Ottawa Senators.
The team has struggled offensively, scoring one or less goals in seven of their 19 games this season. To add to their lack of production, Captain Jack Eichel sat out in the team’s first contest with the Flyers due to a lower body injury sustained in their previous game with the New Jersey Devils. Eichel’s absence was equally matched with that of Jeff Skinner, who watched his third consecutive game from the press box as a healthy scratch. Dylan Cozens also sat out in the Sabres second match up against the Flyers. Cozens has three goals in 14 games to start his NHL career. The unexpected lack of scoring has lead many Sabres fans to question those in charge. Ralph Kruger has now coached 88 games behind the Sabres bench and has a record of 36-41-11.
Defensive Injuries Contribute to New Low
Prior to the Sabres two game stretch versus the Flyers, one high point of the team was goaltender Linus Ullmark. However, in the first of the two matchups, Ullmark was injured and has since been ruled out for the next month. Adding Ullmark to the injury list that already includes Jake McCabe and Will Borgen contributes to the Sabres inability to defend goals. A concern that is just as prevalent as the teams inability to score them. The only positive to come out of the weekend was the reinstatement of defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the lineup. Ristolainen had not played since the team’s Covid-19 outbreak and is a core player for the Sabres.
Even with the number one defenseman back on the ice, the Sabres struggled immensely. However the number of goals surrendered by the Sabres remains irrelevant if the team cannot score. In fact, as poor as the team has performed defensively, their goals against remains below the league average. Their total goals for on the other hand is significantly below league average, a statistic that gets even worse when looking specifically at even strength play.
Will the Sabres Escape Rock Bottom
At this point in the season there is little to no hope that the team will turn things around. Jack Eichel’s struggles continue as the captain remains at a goal total of two on the season. Aside from the captain, off season pick up Taylor Hall has only one goal thus far as a Sabre. The teams next highest player, Jeff Skinner, has zero goals on the season. To put this into perspective, the Sabres have spent 28 million dollars this season to generate three goals through 19 games. To make matters worse, the Buffalo Sabres have 14 first round draft picks on their roster this season. A team that on paper is as talented as the Buffalo Sabres should not be laying dormant at the bottom of the NHL standings.
Once again, all questions point to those in charge. Head Coach Ralph Kruger has been on the hot seat as many blame him for the Sabres disappointing performance. Aside from the Head Coach, new General Manager Kevyn Adams is under the gun regarding the teams inability to perform. From an outside perspective, the Sabres seem to have found rock bottom several years ago, leading to the drafting of both Jack Eichel and Rasmus Dahlin. However, for those in the city of Buffalo the organization seems to redefine rock bottom year after year. The team has not made the playoffs since 2011. In that time, the teams overall record is 266-353-91. It is evident that the Sabres organization is flawed, yet the solution remains unknown.
The Sabres next matchup is Tuesday, March 2 against the New York Rangers.
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