Buffalo Sabres look like the NHL’s most dysfunctional team in loss to Ducks

Unless the Buffalo Sabres start playing faster hockey and show more urgency, they aren’t winning many more games this season.
Buffalo Sabres v Anaheim Ducks
Buffalo Sabres v Anaheim Ducks / Harry How/GettyImages

The Buffalo Sabres are coming off of one of their worst performances of the 2023-24 season, arguably their worst since their 9-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets just over a month ago. While the Blue and Gold seemed to have picked up the pace during the second half of the first period, it never translated into anything special come the second and third frames.

The Sabres ended the first two stanzas with 15 shots on goal, the second time in a row that they snagged 15 or fewer through the first 40 minutes. They looked slow throughout the second, half of their defensive rotation couldn’t maintain their footing on the ice - one of which led to a goal when Connor Clifton slipped and turned the puck over, and very few of their passes in the offensive zone hit their marks.

Once again, odd-man rushes and the occasional breakaway were issues, forcing goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen to come up with big saves to simply keep the score somewhat respectable. 

The Buffalo Sabres once again looked completely dysfunctional

The Sabres once again failed to get physical near the crease and box out opponents, and even worse, they rarely bothered to invade scoring lanes and block shots until the final frame. Their penalty kill, so stellar in the past few games, allowed a goal to one of the worst power play units in the league so far in the calendar year. 

Offensively, they once again looked to create the perfect play, something that hasn’t been there for the first 46 games of the year, so why they thought that would change tonight is anyone’s guess. They had a tough time handling the puck, giving Anaheim time to get into position and disrupt plays.

And when the Sabres generated chances, they often shot the puck straight at goaltender John Gibson, allowing him to make a plethora of easy saves.  By the time the Sabres got going and scored a pair of goals with a few minutes left in the game, it was too late, and they were forced to resort to desperate measures.

While I’m an optimist and will expect the Buffalo Sabres to bounce back from their latest demoralizing loss, it’s easy to see why the fan base is so frustrated. Talent-wise, they are clearly the better team than Anaheim, yet they turned around to play one of their worst games of the season. 


(Statistics provided by NHL.com)