The Sabres seem too fragile to be able to achieve their goals

It only took 2:35 for Buffalo to go from a lead to a loss

Paul Hamilton
February 19, 2019 - 11:26 pm

Photo: Brynn Anderson - Associated Press


Sunrise, FL (WGR 550) - It just amazes me how the Sabres can come off a good second period and then come totally unglued in a matter of 2:35 in the third period. In that time, Buffalo went from a 1-0 lead to a 3-1 deficit and the game was over.

This is a group that does not respond to coaching whether it’s Phil Housley, Dan Bylsma or Ted Nolan. It just never seems to matter who the coach is. This is a group that sometimes follows the game plan and when they do, they’re successful.

There are players in that room that have played for all three coaches, and it’s high time Jason Botterill find some players with a good hockey IQ. We sit and watch the same players make the same mistakes over and over again.

Even though the Sabres only gave up two Grade-A scoring chances in the first period, they, again, were playing careful and with no urgency. With so much emphasis being put on defense, they generated almost no offense.

Early in the period, C.J. Smith tipped a point shot that James Reimer stopped, and then Casey Mittelstadt forced a turnover that Reimer made the save on. That was it as far as any offensive chances.

At the other end, the Sabres left Evgenii Dadonov wide open during a power play and Linus Ullmark was huge. Ullmark also had to come up big when Lawrence Pilut misplayed Aleksander Barkov allowing him in alone.

The Panthers did a lot of shooting from distance, but I just saw no desperation at the offensive end from the blue and gold.

That changed with the drop of the puck in the second period. In two minutes, the Sabres had generated three great chances, including Mittelstadt sending in Conor Sheary.

Saying Buffalo's first power play was a train wreck would actually be a compliment, but the second one was much better. They generated chances, moved the puck well and had men around Reimer, which finally paid off when Sam Reinhart put it to Jack Eichel perfectly for a tip.

Buffalo had its way in the first half of the second period, but the Panthers took over in the second half. Ullmark had to stop Ian McCoshen alone down the slot, and Pilut was oblivious to Jace Hawryluk skating by him with Ullmark getting a pad on his in close attempt.

Instead of six shots, Buffalo generated 11 in the second period and came into the third period with the lead. It seems like when one thing goes wrong, they get too uptight. Yes, Rasmus Ristolainen was sloppy on the first goal and Jake McCabe was out of position, but so what? It’s only 1-1 with plenty of hockey to be played. You’re in the middle of a playoff race and you just can’t be that fragile to give up four goals in a period that you came into leading?

So what have they done to themselves now? They’ve lost three in a row to three really bad teams and coming up next is the best team in the league in Tampa Bay.

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