The Sabres try to erase the bad games at home

Buffalo had trouble solving a bad goalie

Paul Hamilton
March 23, 2018 - 9:04 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres were so bad on Wednesday against Arizona, I wondered if some of these guys realize they’re playing for their NHL lives.

Not only are players looking to impress Jason Botterill, they need to impress other teams just to stay in the league. Jason Pominville isn’t sure his teammates realize what they’re up against, “I hope everyone gets it, I mean everyone should have each other’s back, but right now, it’s just not happening that way, we should all be in this together and fighting for each other and try to help a teammate out for here or for somewhere else and just have a little more pride in that area as well and the rest will figure itself out.”

The first period on Friday against Montreal was like night and day from the Coyotes game. The players looked like they were playing for each other and were working hard at both ends. As usual, it didn’t result in any goals, but 10:23 into the period, Buffalo was outshooting Montreal 8-1.

The Sabres made one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL looks like Carey Price, but that’s normal. Antti Niemi just got a piece of a Marco Scandella shot as he was open down the slot. Scott Wilson followed that up by hitting the crossbar.

Casey Nelson made a great decision to pinch through the right wing circle and had two teammates right on top of the crease. Instead of using the open lane to the net, Nelson took it around back and the play died there. Again, no shot mentality.

Montreal got it’s best chance with three seconds left in the period. Scandella lunged for a puck at the red line and Brandan Gallagher skated right through him to go in alone. Linus Ullmark was aggressive with how he challenged the play and Gallagher shot high.

The first 10 minutes of the second period were more like the Arizona game. The Sabres stopped working and Montreal got some great chances on Ullmark. The Canadiens got a lucky break when Jacob de la Rose’s shot went off the back wall and right to Artturi Lehkonen who had a wide open net.

The Sabres finally kicked it into gear, but it was time to make Niemi look like Price again. Sam Reinhart was alone in front and shot it right into Niemi’s pads, twice.

Ryan O’Reilly came off the bench and stole the puck to walk in alone. He deked Niemi out of his jock, but couldn’t tuck it back out in front and into the unattended net.

Jack Eichel had a good chance through the left circle but was stopped. Eichel hasn’t scored a goal since coming back from his ankle injury.

After 40 minutes, Wilson had six hits while Zemgus Girgensons had five.

In the third period, the Sabres had a golden opportunity to tie the game with a 1:06 five-on-three advantage. Eichel ripped a one-time from the left circle that went wide and then O'Reilly fanned on an open net on a pass from Kyle Okposo.

I don't mean to rip into Niemi, but he certainly didn't stand on his head to get a 35 save shutout. The Sabres are just so bad at scoring goals.

Buffalo started the game well as I said earlier, they got away from it. Phil Housley said, "We have good success and then we get a little bit of cheat in our game."

For those of you that think the reason this team is bad is because it doesn't have a captain, I keep telling you there are no captains in that room. Housley said, "It's about time our leadership group stepped up now, that definitely wasn't the response I was looking for. Some guys like to put things into their own hands and think it's going to work and it hasn't."

I think that says it all.

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