Why do the Sabres have such little puck luck?

February 7, 2018
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Do you ever wonder why the team the Sabres are playing seems to get all the bounces? In the 4-3 loss to Anaheim, the Ducks got two goals where they didn’t even shoot the puck and the overtime winner was off the stick of Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres shorthanded goal by Zemgus Girgensons was a rebound from the side of the net that he banked in off of Ryan Miller.

It just seems like losing teams rarely get a break.

You’ve all heard the cliché that you make your own breaks. Josh Gorges said, “I think when you really look at it, it’s the percentages, it’s a percentage game. If you spend more time in the offensive zone, get more traffic at the goalie, more shots, more second chance opportunities, you’re going to create those bounces. Yes, some of it is luck, but you create that luck by putting the other team in tough positions.”

Ryan O’Reilly gave some serious thought to the question of puck luck. He said, “It’s tough to describe. I find personally, when I’m not thinking as much and just moving my feet or doing the little things right, I seem to find the puck or the puck seems to find me.”

It’s only human nature that when it keeps happening, the players say to themselves, why? “I try not to think about it. It’s one of those things that’s out of my control and I have to find a way to raise my own game to make an impact and those bounces they happen,” O’Reilly said. “Yes, they sting, they kill momentum, but you have to find a way to respond.”

Phil Housley doesn’t feel sorry for himself or the team. He firmly believes there are ways to create your own luck, “If you look at the Anaheim goals, they had people going to the net and that’s what we need to do more of. First of all, we have to have a shot mentality and then we have to have net-front presence and more guys going there to pay a price to score."

Gorges is very good at blocking shots. Occasionally one will go off him and in, but it doesn’t happen that often. Gorges said there really isn’t any technique he uses to make sure he doesn’t get a bad bounce, “I think you’re aware of your positioning to where the shot’s coming from to where the net is, but your mentality is get in front of this puck and don’t let it get to the net.”

There is one thing that’s a big no-no when it comes to blocking shots and avoiding bad deflections. The defenseman said, “I feel like those bad breaks or bounces happen when you put your stick out there and it goes off your shaft and drops down. I think when you get your body in front of it, there’s less chance of it going through you.”

Jake McCabe was with the doctor having his upper body injury examined and Housley said he hasn’t heard the result yet. Wednesday’s practice was optional and was attended on the ice by 12 players.