There’s three things the Buffalo Sabres need to do in order to put things right this year.
The Buffalo Sabres were stifled by a red-hot New York Islanders team last night in their first game back since Jan. 31 due to COVID-19, including not even recording a single shot on goal in the third period, which takes some doing.
Following weeks of short-handed practices, it wasn’t very helpful the Sabres went head-first into a brick wall against an Islanders team that is 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and up against a goaltender in Semyon Varlamov, who is posting a 1.89 GAA and .931 save percentage this year.
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It was an even bigger burden when the Sabres left the ice last night, knowing they didn’t record a shot on goal in the third period in nine attempts. That left a sour taste in their mouths as the lone goalscorer Victor Olofsson and captain Jack Eichel didn’t hesitate to voice their displeasures post-game.
The Sabres now sit at the bottom of an unforgiving East Division with a record of 4-5-2 in 11 games played this year. It would be unscrupulous not to consider the club’s woes off the ice. Granted, it isn’t easy to deal with a virus that is surging through a team, knocking out players and coaches alike.
But, from the outside looking in, the Buffalo Sabres have more to worry about moving forward and these were in existence before the COVID-19 outbreak forced the team to the sidelines. Here are three ways the Sabres can aptly turn around their slow start to the year.
Three things the Buffalo Sabres can do to right the ship in 2020-21
The Stars Need To Be The Stars
For starters, Taylor Hall needs to show up or show out.
The former Hart Trophy winner signed a lucrative one-year, $8 million dollar contract in the offseason with an excitement to play with Jack Eichel. So far, Hall has recorded one goal and eight assists for nine points with a plus / minus rating of -7. That’s not Hart Trophy-esque by any stretch of the imagination.
Hall needs to be more than just a silhouette on the ice and a ghost on your television screen. If he wants a shot at earning another lucrative contract this offseason, Hall needs to show the NHL he’s worthy of the funds and worthy to be a key piece in a roster. Much of the offensive production has been Jack Eichel as expected. So far, the No. 2 overall pick by the Sabres in 2015 has a team-high 11 points (2 G, 9 A) this year. And the Sabres are seeing some nice production from another key asset on their team and that is Victor Olofsson.
Victor Olofsson has at least one power-play point in each of his last six games – only two players have recorded a longer such run with the @BuffaloSabres.#NHLStats: https://t.co/3qedJYZ6n4 pic.twitter.com/fzP8iyP4lW
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 16, 2021
Olofsson leads the team with five goals on the year. On the backend of things, Rasmus Dahlin needs to be better and I think we all know that. The Swedish defenseman has recorded consecutive 40-point seasons since entering the league and, in his third and final year of his Entry-Level Contract, he needs to show the Sabres they didn’t make a mistake choosing him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Dahlin is a staggering -10 so far this season and has looked quite timid to say the least. By all accounts, Rasmus Ristolainen has looked more like a number one option leading the team with a plus two rating, until Dahlin says otherwise. If the Sabres’ star talents can come to play from here on out there’s no telling how much of an affect it could have on the rest of the group.
There’s also no telling how that plays a part in their decisions to return to the team for next year. The Sabres will see five players from the starting lineup become RFA’s, including Sam Reinhart and 11 players in total become UFA’s at the end of the season, according to CapFriendly.com.