Final Score: 3-0
Buffalo dropped a rough one on Saturday afternoon, being blanked by Brian Elliott and the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-0. While the Sabres tend to play much better in afternoon contests under Head Coach Ralph Krueger, this afternoon wouldn’t support that theory. The Sabres weren’t able to get their powerplay going early on, and shortly after the Flyers killed off a Joel Farabee slashing call, Sean Couturier was the beneficiary of an unfortunate bounce off of Sabres defenceman Brandon Montour, and the shot beat Carter Hutton for the 1-0 lead.
The Sabres weren’t able to generate many dangerous scoring oppurtunities from that point on, struggling to get pucks on net. Late in the second period, Philadelphia potted two goals in just over four minutes to take a 3-0 lead heading into the final frame.
Heading into the third with a three goal defecit, the Sabres were only able to generate nine shot attempts, and came up empty handed on a late powerplay, where Taylor Hall was held by Flyers defenceman Robert Hagg. The final whistle sounded, and the Flyers were victorious.
⦁ The Sabres Powerplay: Although they went 0-for-3 in Saturday’s game, Buffalo still boasts a pretty lethal powerplay as of late. They have scored a PPG in 11 out of their last 13 games, and currently sit tied with Chicago for the best rated powerplay in the NHL, converting at a rate of 32.8%. While special teams are incredibly vital to their success, Buffalo desperately needs to create more scoring at even strength.
⦁ Casey Mittelstadt: Since drawing into the lineup on a more consistent basis due to injury/rotation, Casey Mittelstadt has been much better in terms of overall play. The points haven’t been coming, but it’s easy to see he’s slowly improving his all around game. He’s made several nice passes, as well as creating a few intricate plays during his powerplay usage. Here’s to Casey continuing this impressive style of play!
⦁ Carter Hutton: Hutton struggled again Saturday afternoon, after catching a bad break late in the first that resulted in Philadelphia taking a 1-0 lead. A shot from Flyers forward Sean Couturier took an awkward deflection off of defenceman Brandon Montour and ended up in the back of the net. The Flyers then added a pair of goals late in the second which seemed like routine attempts, but still managed to beat Hutton. With Linus Ullmark potentially being sidelined for more than a month, Buffalo will need Hutton to be on his A Game from now on, as they cannot keep letting points slip away.
⦁ Sabres versus Brian Elliott: For whatever reason, the Sabres just can’t seem to get pucks past Brian Elliott this season. In two games this year versus Buffalo, the Flyers netminder has recorded two shutouts, while stopping a combined 63 shots. With the amount of pure talent that Buffalo ices up front each game, there shouldn’t be any excuse for not being able to dent the twine a few times
⦁ Taylor Hall’s goal drought continued Saturday afternoon, as he still hasn’t found the back of the net since the season opener versus Washington. Hall skated a shade under 17 minutes this afternoon, registering two shots, and was a minus-two.
⦁ Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen made his return to the lineup after missing nearly a month due to complications from contracting COVID-19. Risto didn’t miss a beat it seemed, as he was throwing his body around collecting six hits in the process. He also led the team in ice time, skating for 22:18.
⦁ In his post game press conference, Head Coach Ralph Krueger alluded to making some changes on the roster for tomorrow’s game:
It will certainly be interesting to see which changes Krueger and Co. make when it comes to potential line rushes/callups from Rochester. Hopefully, we can see Arttu Ruotsalainen make his NHL debut Sunday Afternoon!
Getting Players Back From Injury:
The Sabres welcomed two players back from injury Saturday, as Tobias Reider and Rasmus Ristolainen were able to return after missing some time. Reider had been sidelined for one game after injuring his shoulder in a midweek contest versus the New York Islanders. Ristolainen, however, had missed roughly a month of hockey, recovering from a nasty spell from COVID-19. Thankfully for him, he’s seemed to make a complete recovery.
It’s great to see both players enter into the lineup again, as both Reider and Ristolainen have been performing above expectation so far this season.
Buffalo certainly won’t have much time to dwell on this afternoon’s loss, as they take on the Flyers in the second leg of a back-to-back homestand, Sunday afternoon at 3pm EST. They’ll be looking to right the ship and secure their first win without captain Jack Eichel, as he’s more than likely unavailable due to injury for the third consecutive game.