How the Buffalo Sabres can turn their fortunes around following loss to Kraken

The Buffalo Sabres are coming off their second straight game when they just looked flat, but unlike their win against Pittsburgh, they couldn’t upend Seattle.

Jan 9, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) skates for a loose
Jan 9, 2024; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) skates for a loose / Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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The Buffalo Sabres haven’t played a decent hockey game since their blowout win over the Montreal Canadiens last week. However, they fared just well enough this past Saturday to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, before falling flat vs. the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday. 

If the Blue and Gold continue with pedestrian play offensively, and not every game will go their way, they need to start playing teams the same way they played Pittsburgh. Against the Penguins, you saw someone step up and keep things in check, and that player happened to be Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Defensively, they provided just enough help to keep Pittsburgh from scoring any more than one goal, and the score in question occurred on a 5-on-3 power play for the Pens. On Tuesday vs. the Seattle Kraken, you saw none of that in the game’s final 47 minutes. 

It’s almost like the defensive rotation, sans Connor Clifton and Mattias Samuelsson, routinely forgot their assignments. This is also one reason why you can’t pin the entire blame on Devon Levi for allowing five goals, especially given the number of open looks Seattle had, but still, there were quite a few scores he would want back. 

Buffalo Sabres must have more consistent defense, goaltending

If the Sabres play the Ottawa Senators and especially the Vancouver Canucks the same way this week, they can forget about trying to embark on a new winning streak. To turn around their fortunes, Buffalo must play defense in the same fashion they did in the first 13 minutes of Tuesday night’s game when they forced the Kraken into committing multiple mistakes while taking away would-be opportunities. 

Further, whoever is in the net, probably one game apiece between Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, they need to make saves they’re supposed to make. As implied earlier, Levi came up with some big saves last night, but he also allowed easy goals, and that can’t happen if this team wants to finish the week with a pair of wins. 

Finally, the Buffalo Sabres need to find ways to get the puck in front of the net, and it didn’t happen as often as it should have last night. There were times when they invaded the crease, but it was inconsistent, and as a result, they gave the underrated but productive Joe Daccord a rather unchallenging 60 minutes. 

To recap, the Sabres must consistently take away opportunities all game while the goaltenders cannot afford to whiff on easy saves. Offensively, the Blue and Gold need to swarm the net the second someone shoots the puck, or if there’s a lane, drive the puck to the net and overwhelm the opposing goaltender.

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)