Final Score: BUF 0 PHI 3
After a very strong showing on Monday night, the Buffalo Sabres followed up that with another decent performance against the Flyers tonight. The Sabres put up 40 shots in this game and weren’t able to find the back of the net despite playing complete game. Brian Elliott was the starting goalie for the Flyers and he was lights out for them in a great team response from Monday’s blowout loss.
Besides some issues in the first game of the season against Washington, the Sabres have played some good hockey, but they just haven’t gotten results. This game reminded me a lot of the second Washington game. I thought they deserved a win, but they couldn’t reflect that play on the score sheet.
Arrow Up/Arrow Down:
- Penalty kill: The Sabres penalty kill has looked much better to this point this season. Kevyn Adams and company prioritized improving the team’s penalty kill and it is showing so far. They have only given up one power play goal, and that came in the first game of the season against the Flyers. The team as a whole haven’t given the opposition many opportunities at the man advantage as well. Good special teams will be crucial in their push for the playoffs so let’s see if they can keep this up.
- Defending Dahlin: It was nice to see Jack Eichel come to the defense of Rasmus Dahlin. It was obvious that some Flyers players were going after Dahlin and it seemed like that cooled down after Eichel went after Travis Konecny.
- New D pairs: Speaking of Dahlin, he has a new D partner in Colin Miller. Dahlin and Miller played on the same pair at points last season and I thought that they played well together and Rasmus played his best hockey last season while on that pair. The Dahlin and Montour pair wasn’t working and it was time to break that up. Montour is now with Henri Jokiharju. With both players being right handed, Jokiharju played on the left side. Montour played a lot of the last season on the off side as well.
- Carter Hutton: With Linus Ullmark still out due to personal reasons, Carter Hutton had to start in back to back games. Hutton had a good performance tonight and had 19 saves on 20 shots, including a couple big saves to keep the game close.
In the second period, Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov was hit into Hutton and contact was made with his head. Hutton stayed in the game for the rest of the period but he would not start in goal for the third period. Jonas Johansson had to step up and play out the rest of the game. Johansson did well for himself, especially with him coming in cold right into a Flyers power play.
As coach Krueger said, this goaltending situation is definitely concerning. Johansson had a shaky training camp to say the least, and quarantine rules may impede on their ability to get another goalie here in time for their next game if Hutton and Ullmark aren’t ready to play. Could we see Marty Biron suit up as Johansson’s backup on Friday? Who knows!
- Eric Staal: It is a small sample size but Eric Staal has been disappointing so far. He has turned the puck over a lot and looks like he has lost a step in the skating department too. You don’t notice him too involved offensively and the puck is never on his stick. The Sabres need him to step it up.
- Snake-bit Skinner: It looks like Jeff Skinner can’t buy a goal at this point. He is certainly getting a lot of chances at even strength but he just isn’t getting any puck luck. He had a couple great scoring chances that looked like he would score, which has been the case for him in the las couple of games. It’s only a matter of time until he starts to get goals again. In the third period, Skinner was moved up to the Staal and Olofsson line. We shall see if that move will jumpstart some scoring from number 53.
- After starting the season on the top line with Eichel and Hall, Tage Thompson has been dropped down the lineup in the last couple of games. And tonight he was a healthy scratch in favor of Rasmus Asplund, who was called up from the taxi squad. Thompson had an impressive training camp and deserved the look on the top line but that role looked too big for him for the most part in those two games against Washington. With Thompson’s defensive game still suspect, it will be a challenge for Ralph Krueger to find a solid spot to keep Thompson in as the season goes on.
- Rasmus Dahlin was taken off of the first power play unit in the second period. Rasmus Ristolainen took his place. Ristolainen isn’t a stranger to that spot, as he was the quarterback of the first power play unit for most of his career up until Dahlin arrived. Taking your best skating and passing defenseman off of the top unit is very puzzling.
The Sabres will be back on the ice in Washington for a 7:00 p.m. faceoff on Friday. There will be another matchup on Sunday against the Caps, and due to the AFC Championship game, that start time has been changed to 3:00 p.m. A 1-3 start to the season isn’t what fans had hoped for but their play has shown that there is potential for them to be a good team. But because of the 56 game schedule, they don’t have a lot of time to figure things out. Getting too far behind early won’t be an easy thing to overcome.
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