In the final contest of their three game home stand, the Buffalo Sabres faced off against the Winnipeg Jets at First Niagara Center last night and it would end up being be a performance they wish they could forget. Poor play on the ice and a complete lack of intensity left the Sabres on the short end of 2-1 loss as they continue to spiral further down the standings. Don’t let the shots on goal fool you, the Sabres were never in it and as close as a 2-1 score might seem, it was a one-sided game from the first drop of the puck to the final whistle.
The first two periods of play were characteristic of the Sabres’ lackluster style of hockey we’ve come to expect from them all season. The inability to clear their zone, horrible giveaways, no chemistry on the offensive side of the puck, and just a complete lack of aggression has been plaguing the team all year and it continued last night.
Amidst a three game losing skid, the Winnipeg Jets came into the game last night playing like they wanted to win and the Sabres made it easy for them.
Winnipeg jumped on the board just a minute into the game with pass from Evander Kane to Bryan Little sitting wide open in front of Ryan Miller. The early goal seemed to suck the life out of the Sabres as Winnipeg went on to dominate the majority of the game.
The only thing Sabres fans had to cheer about for the first 39 minutes of hockey was the first period scrap between Pat Kaleta and Evander Kane that resulted in a chirping battle between the two sides. The rest of the night was filled with boo’s from the home crowd, clearly frustrated with their team’s performance on the ice.
The Sabres did not show up to play for the first two periods and it wasn’t until the waning moments of the second period that Buffalo got on the board with a snipe from Jason Pominville during a 2-on-1 break away.
The Sabres seemed to have new life coming into the third much like we witnessed in the game against Boston last friday, but even with a late power play opportunity they couldn’t find the back of the net. The Sabres have now lost their second straight game at home, the first time losing back-to-back home games in over a year.
Coming into this game, I had some pretty high expectations for Buffalo. After a heartbreaking loss to the top-ranked Pittsburgh Penguins this past Sunday, I figured the Sabres would come out strong and take it to the Winnipeg Jets, one of the few teams in the NHL with fewer points than the Sabres right now. But I was sorely mistaken in this one and wanted to cover my eyes for most of the game. And even with my eyes covered, my ears could have told the story last night as the boo’s rained down from the crowd throughout the game. The Buffalo Sabres somehow managed to turn their fans against them in one of the worst games I’ve witnessed them play all season.
Honestly, the score should have been a lot worse. Probably 5-1 in favor of Winnipeg maybe? If it wasn’t for a few blatant scoring opportunities missed by the Jets and several moments where Ryan Miller had to bail out his defense by standing on his head, the score would have ended up that way.
One of the few bright spots for Buffalo in last night’s matchup was in fact Ryan Miller. He spoiled a few break away opportunities in the first period and played solid throughout the game. He gave his team a chance to win and that’s all you can ask for out of your goaltender.
Miller spoke after the game about the reaction from the fans. “We’ve been letting them down. We’re not playing the caliber hockey this city deserves. We deserve to get booed.”
Another name worth mentioning last night was Patrick Kaleta. He was one of the few players on the ice for the Sabres that came out with consistent energy and intensity. He is fearless when it comes to shot blocking for Buffalo and does a great job sacrificing the body. Kaleta didn’t see the ice at all in the third period and still managed to lead the team with 6 hits on the night.
Everything the Sabres have been struggling with this season was magnified in last night’s matchup. There’s no chemistry amongst the team right now and they are not playing like they want to win; a real recipe for disaster in a shortened season where there’s little time to adjust.
“After putting together two pretty solid performances, I have a hard time explaining that (last night’s game)” Lindy Ruff said during his post game press conference.“We didn’t start skating until the third period.”
Showing up for 20 minutes in a hockey game is not going to get it done at any level. Ruff made it known to the press last night that he’s embarrassed the way the team has been performing and he should be. He even mentioned the constant booing from fans and he thoroughly acknowledged that things need to change in Buffalo.
I hope Lindy’s words can be put into action because I’m sick of watching the product being produced on the ice in Buffalo, its nauseating at this point in a season. With all the so-called “talent” that’s supposed to exist on this team, things need to turn around fast for the Buffalo Sabres.
-Sabres went 0-3 on the powerplay last night (real shocker)
-Sabres have only won a total of 3 home games this year (reason to boo for sure)
-Buffalo only had to kill one penalty last night (maybe this alludes to the fact they aren’t playing aggressive?)
The Buffalo Sabres travel to Toronto this Thursday to take on the Maple Leafs for the third time this season.
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