The Sabres drag five straight losses into Monday's game against Columbus

November 20, 2017
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres face a team tonight that’s headed in a totally different direction. Columbus is tied for first with New Jersey and Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division and have 11 points more than Buffalo.

The Blue Jackets have already beaten the Sabres 5-1 and are on a three-game winning streak. Columbus is 3-1-1 in its last five road games and 6-3-1 on the road overall.

At .350, the Sabres are the second worst team in the National Hockey League. Buffalo is the worst scoring team in the league averaging just 2.30 goals per game. Jack Eichel thinks that maybe they need to start changing their preparations, “It’s what you’re doing in order to prepare yourself. Whether that’s your one-ice warm-up, your pregame preparation, just everything. Whether it’s a little bit mental, we’re putting ourselves in games here and I feel like when we let a point or two slip away, we need to find ways to get over that hump and just continue to battle and stick with it.” An example of giving away points would be the three points they lost when leading after two periods. The Sabres are 3-0-3.

In their five straight losses, the Sabres have scored one goal in four of those games. They have seven games of just one goal in their last 11. We always hear about five man units when it comes to defending, but what about five man units coming up ice to try to increase goals? Eichel said, “I definitely agree, just the way teams backcheck, the goaltending in this league, it’s not easy to score, so I think there’s times whether or not we’re trying to dump pucks and we don’t have speed to it, we’re not hitting the neutral zone with speed and it puts us a little bit behind and in a tough spot.

“It is a five-man unit to score, everyone needs to pull in the right direction and do their part and when we’ve done that, we’ve had success and when we haven’t, we’ve struggled to score goals.”

The Sabres haven’t been giving up power play goals, but they’ve been taking a lot of careless penalties and have had to kill off 14 power plays in the last three games including two five-on-threes. Nate Beaulieu said it zaps their energy, “It has, it’s difficult, especially for a guy like myself who doesn’t always kill them. You take three or four in a row and it’s tough to stay in the game, so we’ll clean that up.”

Phil Housley made big changes to the lines for tonight’s game. Jack Eichel is playing with Zemgus Girgensons and Jason Pominville. Housley said, “I don’t think Eichel’s being demoted, I think he’s such a terrific player, I think you can put anybody on his wings.”

 

Monday’s lines:

Girgensons - Eichel - Pominville

Pouliot - Larsson - Okposo

Kane - O’Reilly - Reinhart

Nolan - Criscuolo - Griffith

 

Scandella - Falk

McCabe - Beaulieu

Gorges - Antipin

Moulson - Nelson

 

Robin Lehner gets the call in goal. Lehner has allowed eight goals in his last two starts and is 4-7-2 with a 3.09 goals against and .903 save percentage.

Sergei Bobrovsky has played the last four games and has been red hot allowing just four goals. In the four games before that, he had let in 14 goals.

Nick Foligno has been in a bad slump as his last point came 11 games ago against Buffalo.

Former Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is the Blue Jackets leading scorer with 14 points in 20 games.

Cam Atkinson has only six points in 16 games.

Join Schopp and the Bulldog at 6 p.m. for the pre-game live from (716) Food and Sport when they’ll be joined by Phil Housley, Jack Eichel, Nate Beaulieu and Zemgus Girgensons.