Buffalo - January 5, 2015 - Following every Sabres game, we’ll be taking a little look at the previous night’s action with a little segment called “good, bad and ugly”. Expect a loooooooot of ugly.
Thanks to the holidays, this is a weekend edition, covering back-to-back losses to the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.
What good do you find in a weekend where the Sabres not only lost both games but were outscored 8-1? Uh, well, Zemgus Girgensons is an NHL All-Star! Thanks to Latvian willpower, Girgensons topped the voting with 1,574,896 votes.
And sure, he’s not among the league-leaders in scoring – he’s got 11 goals and nine assists through 40 games – but he’s hands down been one of the best Sabres in an otherwise awful year and, hell, someone had to go from the blue and gold.
So hey, Michal Neuvirth is finally back fully and got both starts over the weekend. He was strong in the loss to Florida, turning aside 31 of 33 despite giving up both goals within the first 12 minutes of the game. He’s the only reason the Sabres had any chance to make a comeback, despite the fact that anyone who’s watched this team for more than five minutes this year knew it wasn’t happening.
Then, he showed up in New York and things got ugly. He allowed four goals on nine shots and was pulled after just 12:34 on Saturday night in an ugly 6-1 loss. Enroth stepped in and was solid in relief, turning aside 28 of 30 including eight shots on the power play.
The Sabres stand very little chance on most nights, but when Neuvirth (or the goaltending in general) is bad? Holy smokes, things can and usually do get ugly. I’m not saying to expect to see him on the block come deadline time, but don’t assume the Sabres are standing pat in goal. Enroth is somewhat safe, but Neuvirth could find himself out of future plans if he continues his up-and-down play.
Remember when the Sabres were a house of fire a month ago and could put in four goals on only a dozen shots? Yeah, those opportunistic ways are long gone.
Thing is, the Sabres actually managed 55 shots between the two games, a pretty decent total considering their abilities in that department, but they just couldn’t bury much of anything against two pretty good goalies in Hank Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo.
The offense hasn’t really been there all year and some people were fooled into thinking all was okay during the stretch where they were winning, but now they’re showing their true colors. Outside of a few select guys, this team just can’t score. They can’t finish opportunities that others would, they can’t get chances that others would. They just can’t operate on the same level offensively and that showed over the weekend. Things have been ugly offensively and weekends like this really hammer that home.
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