(WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres have tended to play better on the road this season, and the first 10 minutes Thursday night in Washington against the Capitals was more of the same.
Buffalo spent most of the time in the offensive zone, got in on the forecheck and sent players to the net. It resulted in many great scoring chances, but two posts later, it was still 0-0.
The Sabres rarely take the lead and put pressure on the opponent. They usually let the other team stay in the game until they can find their stride and take the game over.
That’s exactly what Washington did, and now Buffalo has lost four straight games and five out of six.
Not only are the Sabres battling the New York Rangers as the worst team in the East Division, they’re battling the Rangers, the Ottawa Senators, the Detroit Red Wings, the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks for the worst team in the NHL.
Buffalo has a points percentage of .385, Nashville is .375, Detroit is .306 and Ottawa is last in the NHL at .237.
It's funny how all they do around here is change coaches, change general managers, and Kevyn Adams changed many players. However, nothing changes in the standings.
The constants have been Terry Pegula, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart, Kyle Okposo and Jack Eichel. They’ve been here for most of the changes and, in a few cases, all of them.
In Thursday’s loss in Washington, Cody Eakin puts a shot at the net on his first shift. Vitek Vanacek kicked the rebound right out front to Tobi Rieder, but the puck bounced over his stick.
Reinhart caused a turnover in the right circle. He quickly spun and caught Vanacek totally by surprise with a quick release. Reinhart beat him clean, but hit the post.
Jeff Skinner came open down the slot and he hit the post. Early in the third period, Skinner created a turnover to the left of Vanacek and he puts the puck high and wide.
Eakin is wide-open on a set play off the back wall and he shoots high and wide.
We can talk about the Washington goals and how on the first one, a defenseman was very casual, which allowed Nick Backstrom to get to the puck in the crease first and tap it into the empty net. We can talk about a bad play along the blue line that allowed Tom Wilson to lead a 2-on-0 and score a shorthanded goal. How about the forward that was gliding back on the third goal-against, allowing Conor Sheary to be wide-open for an easy goal?
That’s not what this is about.
The Sabres are close to the worst 5-on-5 scoring team in the NHL, as most of their goals come on power plays. They’ve scored five goals in their four-game losing streak, and four of them have come with the extra man.
Buffalo has fallen to 28th in league scoring, netting 2.31 goals per-game. Buffalo has 30 goals, and 14 have come on the power play.
With the season pretty much gone, I’ll be interested to see how Adams plays this out. He has a lot of players, including Taylor Hall, on one-year deals.
It’s too early for teams to be in buying mode, because the playoffs are too far away. Adams may have to just wait and see what teams are looking for pieces.
The Pegulas hired Adams hoping to develop what the Buffalo Bills have in general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. They made sure Ralph Krueger has a huge say just like McDermott does, but watching another season slip away in horrific fashion tells us the Sabres still have light years to go to match what the Bills have created.