Quick Hits: Sabres at Devils / vs. Sharks / vs. Ducks / at Maple Leafs / vs. Canucks

Evander Kane continues to score goals at a rapid pace – 6 goals in his last 9 games.

The first game of the week, Buffalo fell right into the Devils’ boring ways. Buffalo’s lack of apparent drive allowed the Devils to clog the neutral zone throughout most of the game. Buffalo’s lackluster penalty kill unit was continued its lacklusterness, with being responsible for both of New Jersey’s goals. On the flip side, Robin Lehner was absolutely superb – aside from that one play where he almost caught the puck but it clanked out of his glove and ended up resulting in the game-winning goal.

Things continued to be poor for the Buffalo Sabres against the San Jose Sharks – to the tune of a 4-1 deficit to be exact. Strange enough, something clicked after the Sabres fell down deep against the Sharks. Buffalo turned around their fortunes in just 3:28 – O’Reilly, Kane and then Okposo rallied the troops and evened the score up. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this is the latest 3+ goal comeback the Sabres have completed since overcoming a 4-1 deficit against the Boston Bruins on November 2, 2006. Buffalo was able to hang on for 1 point but couldn’t settle for just that. Only 1:05 into the overtime frame, Evander Kane put home the game-winning overtime goal and promptly crashed into the boards headfirst. The victory pushed Buffalo to 17-1-1 all-time against San Jose, including a franchise-best 11 game point streak. Dan Dunleavy had one hell of a call. Check it out below, in case you missed it.

Buffalo entered this game on a high, looking to add another loss to Anaheim’s growing losing streak. The Sabres held on for quite awhile, in fact through two periods the game was tied at 1. In the third period, Anaheim reminded Buffalo and the entire National Hockey League why they are so good. The Ducks turned up their speed and unleashed an offensive onslaught on the Sabres. When the final buzzer sounded, Buffalo went from a 1-1 tie after two periods to a 5-2 loss. Anaheim is on another level with their speed, something Buffalo has always struggled with.

Saturday rolled around and the Sabres found themselves in a must-win situation (as if every game at this point isn’t a must-win). Being able to not only gain more points but close the playoff gap in the process is something Buffalo had the opportunity to do, and the did not disappoint. Evander Kane again flashed his offensive prowess, netting 2 of the Sabres 3 goals. Jack Eichel was doing work on the scoresheet as well, grabbing an assist on all 3 Sabres goals. Robin Lehner was a wall in net (get the joke?), only allowing 1 goal (shockingly a power play goal) on 44 shots. A huge win for Buffalo, as they continue to tread water in their difficult hunt for the playoffs.

Buffalo’s stretch of 5 games in 7 days couldn’t have ended any uglier than it did on Sunday night. To kind of quote Robin Lehner, the Sabres essentially made two plays that resulted in two goals and the rest was just something ugly. Kyle Okposo actually termed Sunday night’s effort as “gross”. There really is no nice way to talk about this game – Buffalo stunk up the KeyBank Center. Following the game, Robin Lehner called out his teammates, without naming names. This rant sent Buffalo media into a frenzy, which I learned that Reinhart still indeed does suck at hockey and millennials in the locker room are to blame for the Sabres issue. Wow, such information.

Looking ahead, the Sabres play a lot more games in a short amount of time – 4 games in 6 days starting on Tuesday night against Ottawa. Good news though, once the season is tanked by the end of the week, the Sabres get 5 days off to think about what they’ve done.

Bad news this week on the injury front – Zemgus Girgensons is “more than day-to-day” and Cody Franson blocked a shot with his foot and is out for 2-3 weeks. This is bad news because he might not be back before the trade deadline

Time for the quick hits, I guess.

quick hits banner
    • Extend that Falk.

On Monday morning, the Buffalo Sabres announced a one-year contract extension for pending unrestricted free agent Justin Falk.

When analyzing this deal from all angles, it makes sense for both parties involved – first of all, Falk has been somewhat of a revelation for the Buffalo Sabres this season. Falk has filled in better-than-expected throughout the season, as Buffalo Sabres defensemen share injury stories. In 39 games, Falk has tallied 6 points (0 goals, 6 assists). Secondly, and more importantly, this gives the Buffalo Sabres more flexibility in the upcoming Expansion Draft.

With Falk under contract for the 2017-18 NHL season, he can now be exposed in the Expansion Draft as soon as he plays his 40th game this season, which will presumably happen on Tuesday night in Ottawa.

    • Sabres Showdown

Eichel v. McCabe

Girgensons v. Gionta

Reinhart v. Ristolainen

Semifinal – Girgensons v. O’Reilly

Semifinal – McCabe v. Reinhart

    • Player of the Week

Jack Eichel is this week’s player of the week, and why not? Eichel nabbed 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in 5 games, which is why we nominate him for the first ever BLTD Sabrecap Player of the Week.

Yeah, he played like dog poop against Vancouver but who didn’t?

I don’t want to hear your terrible #narratives.

    • Playoff Update

SportsClubStats.com Playoff Percentages:
at NJD – 11.8% before, 7.8 % after
vs SJS – 7.8% before, 11.8% after
vs ANA – 11.8% before, 6.6% after
at TOR – 6.3% before, 9.8% after
vs VAN – 10% before, 4.8% 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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