The Sabres blow their homestand, getting only seven out of 14 points

Phil Housley called his team soft after the loss to the New York Rangers

Paul Hamilton
February 15, 2019 - 10:24 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports


Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The good defensive play of the last three games went out the window on Friday as the Sabres got rolled by the New York Rangers. Buffalo only took seven out of 14 points in its homestand, which isn’t close to good enough.

In the first period against the Rangers, Buffalo had the better chances, but the coverages and defensive zone play were horrendous.

On the Rangers' first goal, Linus Ullmark made a circus save on Connor Brickley in front, but Boo Nieves got the rebound and all Johan Larsson did was wave at him with his stick. If this were the last three games, Nieves would’ve been deposited on the seat of his pants and would’ve had no chance to score. That all started because Marco Scandella's pass up the wall went right to the Rangers.

On the second goal, Jack Eichel was soft on the puck, allowing Vladislav Namestnikov to take a screen shot that was tipped by Jesper Fast in front.  

Before that goal was scored, the Rangers looked like the Harlem Globetrotters, just skating circles around Vladimir Sobotka, Tage Thompson and C.J. Smith. That line had a good first shift, putting good pressure on the Rangers. Sobotka almost scored, but one good shift doesn’t excuse the rest of it.

Buffalo got an early power play, where Rasmus Dahlin was set up for a perfect one-timer from the right circle. He beat Alexandar Georgiev, but hit the post dead on.

Zemgus Girgensons got behind the defense but tried a deke and didn’t get a shot off.

For a split second in the second period, it looked like the Sabres were going to get some life. Just 53 seconds in, Jason Pominville out-worked his man behind the net and found a wide open Jeff Skinner for his 35th goal of the season.

The shift after a goal is usually a schmazel for the Sabres and this was no different. Lawrence Pilut got out-worked by Pavel Buchnevich behind the net and Jimmy Vesey did the same to Jake McCabe at the side of the net and New York had its two-goal lead back. Ullmark also wasn't tight on the post, allowing the puck to get through.

Just like Dahlin did in the first period, Jack Eichel beat Georgiev with a bullet, but hit the crossbar.

The Rangers' speed flummoxed the Sabres at every turn. There were wide open Rangers throughout this game and Buffalo had no answers.

Buffalo got two power plays late in the period and Skinner was left open again and he cut the lead to one.  

The Sabres had a little better play starting the third, but Tage Thompson missed three golden opportunities, especially after he stole the puck and walked right down the slot.

After the game, Phil Housley called his team soft, saying they didn’t work and the players need to understand that they didn’t manage the puck, and when they don’t have the puck they have to have total urgency. He is absolutely right. He is coaching a very soft and fragile team that is much better than last year, but probably not good enough to stay in this playoff race too much longer.

This is no news to Jason Botterill, but he still has a lot of work to do to shape this team into a winner. 

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