Calgary - January 28, 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.
I damn near nailed the score on the head (I predicted 4-2 Flames), so there’s that. But for the rest of the not-so-good stuff, let’s get right into last night’s 4-1 loss to the Flames.
A power play goal! By god, a power play goal! And from Chris Stewart, at that. It seems like the special teams choose to score on rare occasions, not wanting to show off by being productive on a nightly basis. Stewart seems to adhere to that strategy as well. Doesn’t want to burn himself out before he can be traded off to a new team, after all.
On the other hand, the penalty kill only allowed one power play goal tonight on four kills. Considering the penalty kill has bottomed out in recent weeks, crashing to last in the NHL at 73.8%, clicking at a 75% rate on the night doesn’t seem all that bad.
Cripes, the Sabres have become so bad over the last few weeks that pundits and fans are openly blasting management for constructing a team this poor. I’ll get into that last part in a minute, but this is what happens when your goaltending can’t bail you out on a nightly basis like Enroth was doing during that incredible 13-game stretch during November and December.
This team is built as such: skate hard and hope the bounces go your way. Not a great way to win games. Having said that, really? People are upset at this when Tim Murray came right in and basically said that the rebuild was going to be ugly and take time? This is how teams become good: they are truly putrid for a year or two or three, they amass high-end young talent and then they figure it out. Buffalo is somewhere in the second phase and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t as far as everyone might think.
It’s not as if the Sabres are purposely throwing games at this point; they’re just bad. Sad part is that this is a similar team to the Vanek/Pominville teams, just missing the big pieces. Those teams were never going to win a Cup, this team probably won’t win another game. You take your lumps now for long-term success later.
Is Michal Neuvirth salvageable at this point? I mean that from either a trade value standpoint or actually making him a valuable piece on the ice. He’s been hurt more often than not since coming to Buffalo, though if I had to play behind this group, I’d be coming up with strains and pulls all the time, too.
Enroth is, for better or worse, “the guy” in net right now and he hasn’t faced any real threat from Neuvirth since the start of the season. Ideally, they would both be playing well and Buffalo would have another trade chip at the deadline, but the way things are going right now, they have Enroth and that’s really it. Why would anyone trade for Neuvirth when it seems like he can’t be depended upon?
It’s just frustrating because he’s clearly got the better set of physical tools between he and Enroth, but Enroth wants it more and is actually on the ice. Hopefully, Neuvirth gets back soon, proves he can be relied on and either shows his value on the ice or as a trade piece.
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