Quick Hits: Sabres at Canadiens / vs. Rangers / vs. Senators

This past week for the Buffalo Sabres could’ve gone better – in terms of playoff hopes – but ending another week of hockey with 3 of 6 potential points isn’t the worst. In hindsight, it really isn’t the best either.

The first of three games this week was bad from the start – poor effort and mental mistakes aplenty. Buffalo fell down 5-0, Max Pacioretty’s hat-trick doing the heavy lifting here, before getting on the board late in the third. Dmitry Kulikov got his first of the season (feels like finally but only his 23rd game), and Brian Gionta continued his post-Montreal dominance of Montreal with his 11th goal in 14 games since leaving the City of Saints. Also, Evander Kane remained white hot after grabbing an assist on Gionta’s late goal. This pushed Kane to 10 points in his last 10 games, including points in four straight (7 points in 4 games). A poor overall performance for a team looking to claw their way into a Wild Card berth, with less than 35 games remaining.

Buffalo’s poor play continued against the New York Rangers a few days later. Actually, it was less poor play and more just flat-out uninspired play from the entire team top to bottom. That was until late in the third period when (shockingly) the Sabres woke up from their game-long slumber. A Cody Franson equalizer with 5:31 left in the third would send proceedings to an extra frame. Despite fantastic efforts from Evander Kane in overtime, the Sabres could not grab the extra point. Chris Kreider put home the game-winner just four seconds after the Sabres killed off a big 4-on-3 power play opportunity.

On Saturday night, Buffalo looked to salvage some sort of growth in the playoff probability department. Fortunately, the Sabres offense was woke in this one. Buffalo blanked the Senators, 4-0 – thanks to goals from Okposo, Reinhart, Foligno and O’Reilly. Jack Eichel led the team with 2 points, both assists. In net, Robin Lehner looked strong against his former franchse, stopping all 37 shots on net.

The busy month of February begins for the Buffalo Sabres, as they’ll play five games in the next week – Monday at New Jersey, Tuesday vs. San Jose, Thursday vs. Anaheim and Saturday at Toronto and Sunday vs. Vancouver. This begins a stretch of 9 games in 14 days – certainly a stretch that’ll make or break the Sabres’ playoff chances.

Quick hits!

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    • Sabres Showdown

    • Injuries, Again.

The Buffalo Sabres got back two defenseman on Saturday night, when Josh Gorges and Jake McCabe returned to the lineup after recovering from their respective injuries.

With good news comes back news, naturally. Zach Bogosian, after leaving against New York, is day-to-day with a rib muscle injury. We learned on Saturday morning that Will Carrier is out with an undisclosed injury.

This team can’t catch a break.

Injuries are not an excuse for this team to be underperforming but as @ManGamesLostNHL points out, Buffalo’s impact of man games lost has them worst in the league. This means that the injured players Buffalo has been without would’ve had the largest positive affect on their team.

    • Playoff Update

At the time of posting, Buffalo is 7 points out of the second Wild Card spot (with 2 games in hand), currently occupied by the Philadelphia Flyers (59 points). Buffalo is 6 points out of the third Atlantic playoff spot, with 4 games in hand. That final spot is currently occupied by the Boston Bruins (58 points).

SportsClubStats – Playoff Odds
at MTL: 10.1% before, 6.8% after
vs. NYR: 7.3% before, 7.1% after
vs. OTT: 7.1% before, 9.5% after

    • The Good Tweets

Written by Ryan Wolfe

Ryan Wolfe is the founder and editor-in-chief of BLTD Sports. He can be heard on the BLTD Podcast. Ryan's writing is also featured over at TheHockeyWriters.com.

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