Buffalo Sabres desperately searching for answers

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Jack Eichel
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Jack Eichel /

Occupying bottom spot in the Eastern Conference is becoming too familiar for the Buffalo Sabres, who were left stunned by the Dallas Stars’ four-goal blitz in the first period on Saturday night.

No matter the quality of the opposition, one of the first steps in any hockey game is to do everything possible to not lose that first period. The Buffalo Sabres failed in spectacular fashion on Saturday night.

Yes, the Dallas Stars are a good team, with an excellent home record this season. Regardless, the Sabres didn’t even give themselves a chance, as they were left stunned by a four-goal blitz in the first period, to effectively end the game with 40 minutes still remaining.

As a result of the 5-1 loss, the Buffalo Sabres ended the night occupying bottom spot in the Eastern Conference. Already, it’s becoming an unnervingly familiar position for the struggling franchise.

To a man, the Sabres told the media afterwards that they got off to the start they wanted against the Stars. However, things started to unravel quickly once they allowed the early goal, as the Stars scored four times in less than 10 minutes.

While having no issue with Phil Housley or what he’s trying to do, some of his comments after the game seemed to almost hint at a certain amount of denial. As reported by WGR 550‘s Pat Malacaro, the Sabres’ coach said:

"“We came out, we were forcing the play, we were forcing the issue, just a couple bad bounces. If you look at it, our first period, some of the goals were tough ones to watch and look at because I thought our guys played really well and it’s unfortunate but, you look after the first period, it was a 1-1 hockey game.”"

It’s all very well saying you started the game well, but it’s irrelevant if you fall behind after just three minutes of action. In addition, it doesn’t matter if the final 40 minutes did result in a 1-1 scoreline, when you’ve allowed four goals in the first period while scoring none yourself.

In fairness to the Buffalo Sabres, they did have their moments and finished the contest with more shots and hits, while winning a higher percentage of the face-offs. However, another key stat was their inability to do anything on the power play, as they went 0/4 on the night.

More from Buffalo Sabres

As for the season as a whole, the Sabres deserve somewhat of a break. Despite being near the bottom of the league for goals allowed, they’ve had absolutely no luck whatsoever when it comes to health.

We previously wrote about the flurry of injuries to the blue line, with Zach Bogasian being the biggest loss. As a result, the Sabres have had to recall the likes of Taylor Fedun and Zach Redmond from Rochester.

Now you can add Rasmus Ristolainen to the list, after he missed the Stars game with an upper-body injury. He’s been listed as day-to-day, but his absence couldn’t have come at a worse time for a unit which has been figuratively brought to its knees.

As with the result against the Stars, Housley attempted to put a positive spin on the loss of Ristolainen (although we don’t blame him on this occasion). As reported by John Vogl of The Buffalo News, he said:

"“Obviously, you lose a guy like that who logs a lot of minutes, plays in every situation, we’re going to have to spread that around a little bit, rely on other guys. But other guys are getting opportunities. That’s the way they’ve got to look at it.”"

We still believe there is a chance for the Sabres to rebound and get their campaign on track. However, if you’re a betting person, the reality is you’d be a fool to put any money on them making the playoffs this season.

Next: Is Jason Garrison worth pursuing?

Did you watch the horror show on Saturday night? Do you believe the 5-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game, or not indicative of the effort the Buffalo Sabres put in? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.