By Brandon J. Koch
The Buffalo Sabres are off to an 0-2-1 start this 2017 season, with only 1 point out of a possible 6.
They just lost a pitiful game to the New Jersey Devils, 6-2.
So what are the problems? Why have the Sabres once again struggled mightily out of the gate? Here are my reasons:
New parts: Many might say this part is a BS excuse, but it’s a fact. New coaching staff, new players, new system. They all look confused out there and I have to believe it’s because of lack of familiarity. The whole defensive core was revamped, new players on lines. It’s a process that will require patience.
Defense: Nathan Beaulieu has been bad, Antipin is getting used to the NHL game. Scandella and Tennyson have been pretty good. What scares me is Risto. He hasn’t been good at all and he should be playing well in a system where defensemen have freedom to move up the ice. They have to clean this up before going out west. They’re playing hot potato with the puck in their own end. A defenseman gets the puck and immediately gives up possession by dumping it out.
Scoring: Same problem. We’ve seen Pominville score, Eichel put up points, and now Kane scoring 4 goals in 2 games. Where’s Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo? Sam Reinhart? These are the guys that should be putting the puck in the net. I know it’s early, but it’s a troubling sign. These guys need to get going.
Power play: Or lack there of. A huge strength of this team last season, now has given up short handed goals and not putting pucks to the net.
Final thoughts: I think Evander Kane is right, it’s a lack of focus. Maybe it’s a combination of focus and effort. I’ve watched some lazy 10 period of hockey. Nows the time before heading out west to clean up the mistakes and play, or else they are in big trouble.