The Buffalo Sabres lost to the Arizona Coyotes in a game that easily could have gone in their direction if it wasn’t for a few mishaps.
The Buffalo Sabres are the toughest team in the NHL to figure out, as they can beat the league’s best time and again, but they can never build and maintain momentum to even win two games in a row – at least that’s been the case for over a month and a half. Last night’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes served as the latest example, and quite a few issues contributed to the Sabres flying back to Buffalo with just one win in the trip out west.
Therefore, it’s back to the basics, or the “win or learn” mentality. So what should the Sabres have learned in last night’s loss? Here are three things they can take with them heading into Week 11.
What the Buffalo Sabres can learn from loss to Coyotes
1 – Shooting more from the blue line
If Zach Benson is sensational at one thing this season, it involves him getting in front of the crease to either put himself in position for a tip-in or a deflection. Unfortunately, the Sabres didn’t generate enough shots from the blue line to consistently give Benson and the other forwards lining up near the crease the chances for such tip-ins or deflections.
This overall lack of creativity limited the Buffalo Sabres scoring chances last night, even during times when they found themselves in the offensive zone for an extended time. Come Tuesday vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Sabres need to shoot the puck more from the blue line and overall, the perimeter.
2 – Doing a better job at boxing out opponents
Last night’s game may have ended in a 2-0 shutout, but early on, it held that same vibe of the Blue and Gold going down 2-0 early. That didn’t happen thanks to goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen who, despite playing an unfortunate role during the game’s turning point, was stellar in the first period when he stopped all nine shots on goal.
Moving forward, the Sabres must find a way to clear the area around the crease and force opponents toward the perimeter. Had they played a better hockey team last night or if Luukkonen was having a bad game, chances are they would have allowed a pair of goals in the game’s first 15 minutes.
3 – Staying calm in trying moments
We saw what happened when Luukkonen tried to do too much on his own last night, as it led to the Coyotes taking a 1-0 lead. But this is something we have seen occur often this season, including in the past week alone.
In their 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Buffalo Sabres went on a turnover frenzy when they tried to do too much with the puck. This team just needs to play their game and maintain a cool and collected approach even when something doesn’t go their way, and it’s a test they continue to fail.
Source: Observations: Sabres can’t ‘find the back of the net’ in 2-0 loss to Coyotes by Lance Lysowski, Buffalo News
(Statistics provided by NHL.com)