The Buffalo Sabres were shut out at home tonight, losing 2-0 to the Boston Bruins. The game was tied until Bruins C David Krejci pounded home a goal off of a third rebound that the Sabres could not clear. Both Ryan Miller of the Sabres and Anton Khudobin looked sharp all game, making tough saves on scoring chances and keeping rebounds at a minimum.
The Sabres received four powerplays, but couldn’t capitalize on any. In fact, the best chances on the man-advantage may have come for the Bruins during Buffalo’s final powerplay as they got two breakaway opportunities back-to-back that were saved by Miller — yet another disappointing outing for the Sabres’ powerplay as they looked lost out there without Thomas Vanek.
The team is stuck in an offensive rut, and it’s not for the lack of trying. During the second period, they seem to throw player after player at the end but didn’t get any results. It is perhaps the Sabres’ biggest problem: they have many talented and physically gifted players, but they seem to lack the skill to finish the play with goals. They get 95 percent of the way there but don’t have the skill enough to score.
Instead, the Sabres’ offense needs to create plays to score goals and with very few playmaking players on the team, the offensive stalls as they pass the puck around or fail to connect on passes to players going to the net or in the slot. Without Vanek, the Sabres don’t have a single player that can be counted on to score goals.
The Sabres also fail to utilize their physical abilities. The epitome of this came in the second period as Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers was barreling towards the net, trying to get around Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
Myers is 6-foot-8 and had a good head of steam going, but instead of trying to go through half-foot shorter Boychuk, Myers tried to go around him, allowing Boychuk to make a nice poke check on Myers that ended the offensive chance. Myers is a very capable skater but he rarely ever uses his massive frame to his advantage.
Instead, the physicality usually comes from players like Patrick Kaleta, Steve Ott, and Nathan Gerbe who tops out at a lilliputian 5-foot-5. Despite targeting players with size in the draft, they still lack that truly intimidating enforcer.
The Sabres can officially eulogize the 2013 NHL Season as their recent four-game losing streak has basically ensured the team will miss the playoffs for the second straight year. With the April 3 trade deadline looming, it wouldn’t be surprising to see many of the Sabres veterans shopped.