Sword Play: Buffalo Sabres Struggle to Play 60 Minutes

James Guillory – US PRESSWIRE

The Buffalo Sabres have frustrated fans all season. Their 9-13-2 record is bad enough, but the team’s apparent inability to string together a solid three periods is maddening for most people.

Last night in the team’s 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, they out shot the Canes 34-16 in the second and third periods, including a decisive 18-4 margin in the third period. Despite your feelings on shot margin, there’s no getting around the fact that a team is dominating when they’re putting more than double the amount of pucks on net than their opponent.

So what sunk the Sabres?

Two things: A horrific first period and their pee-wee-like reaction to playing defense after scoring a goal.

After the first period, the Hurricanes skated off with only a 1-0 lead, but the Sabres were lucky that Ryan Miller was on his game because they were out-shot 12-6 and looked lost. There was no heart in their game, with the vast majority of 50-50 pucks going to Carolina, which allowed them to be on the attack most of the period as well.

The team woke up in the second and third, but could not solve Justin Peters, who was making his first start of the season for the Canes last night due to Cam Ward‘s potentially regular season ending MCL sprain.

Basically, if the Sabres hope to get over the hump and get into the playoffs, they need to start playing 60 minutes of hockey. Just two periods’ worth won’t cut it in the shortened season, no matter how well they’re playing.

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Quick Hits:

Cody Hodgson’s shorthanded goal with about 30 seconds left last night was a thing of beauty. After stealing the puck from Eric Staal in the neutral zone, he toe dragged Jiri Tlusty at center ice, then drove wide and toe dragged Justin Faulk before cutting in and scoring on Peters. Hodgson may have struggled last season, but those struggles are obviously behind him. With 10 goals and 21 points in 24 games, he has more than made a case to be the team’s number one center for many years to come and has shown why he was worth parting ways with Zack Kassian.

Ville Leino reportedly may be able to suit up for his season debut Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Leino is currently on injured reserve, so a roster spot will need to be opened up for him, which likely means Brian Flynn is on his way back to Rochester. Flynn has been solid in his three games and registered five shots on net last night.

Mikhail Grigorenko has looked great the past four or five games and has become the offensive presence the team both needs and wants. He has two assists in his last three games and nearly had a few more last night. The next step in his development? Getting Jochen Hecht off of his line.

Follow me on Twitter for NHL and Sabres news all season: @SwordPlay18

 

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