Casey Mittelstadt laments role in loss, sheds truth on the Buffalo Sabres situation

Last night, forward Casey Mittelstadt had a prime chance to win it for the Buffalo Sabres, but he came up just short.
Dec 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) celebrates with
Dec 15, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (37) celebrates with / Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

In last night’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers, Casey Mittelstadt came close to winning the game for the Buffalo Sabres. The 25-year-old found himself on a breakaway, and he looked as though he were about to find twine for the win, but goaltender Igor Shesterkin got enough on it to keep the game tied and New York’s hopes alive.

Had Mittelstadt sunk the goal, the Sabres would have celebrated their first winning streak since October 29th to November 1st. But at the end of the night it was New York who lured goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen out of the crease and ended up scoring an easy goal for the win just moments after Mittelstadt’s scoring chance. 

Mittelstadt wasn’t thrilled with himself, but he also noticed massive strides the team has made over the past two games. However, that doesn’t mean he also doesn’t know the reality of the situation:

"“And I think for me, personally, I’ve got to put one of those away for the team. But it's definitely a balance and to get a point on the road trailing going into the third is big for us. I think we've got a little momentum here going into the second half of the year. We're gonna have to win a lot of games so definitely a start.”"

Casey Mittelstadt

Source: Observations: Sabres rally to force OT, gain some 'momentum' entering holiday break by Lance Lysowski, Buffalo News

Mittelstadt sheds truth on the reality of the Buffalo Sabres situation

That last part of Mittelstadt’s quote is definitely something every player in the locker room needs to take to heart. With this team reverting to its previous style, and rightfully so, we shouldn’t see much stagnation from a goal-scoring and productivity standpoint, but wow, they are still way back there in the Eastern Conference, and there is no longer any excuse - it will be a sense of urgency from now until April. 

With the overtime loss and subsequent point, the Sabres did not inch closer to the Washington Capitals or the Tampa Bay Lightning as they are still seven points behind each. However, the good news is that they also didn’t fall further behind. They are also just six points behind the ninth-place team, the Carolina Hurricanes, and the latter only has one game in hand. 

But the Buffalo Sabres must get to work not simply building momentum for the second half of the season, but for the final three games of the calendar year following the three-day break. As noted in a piece yesterday, the Blue and Gold need to act as though they must win them each, and if that happens, that task heading into the New Year won’t be as tall.