Jan 14, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (26) and Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) go after a loose puck during the first period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Sabres: 3 takeaways from Friday’s 2-1 loss to the Capitals by Matt Hawkins
The Buffalo Sabres just completed their first two games of the season. They opened the year with a back-to-back against the Washington Capitals in Buffalo. A tough task to open the season against a team as strong as the Capitals, especially with so many new faces on the Sabres.
The opening night game ended in a 6-4 loss for the Sabres. It started out as a very sloppy game from Buffalo. They definitely looked like a team the hadn’t played in 10 months and had little chemistry.
The Sabres found themselves down 4-1 late in the second and tried to dig themselves out of the hole they had gotten into. But it was too little too late as a Capitals goal off a bad turnover and an empty-net goal in the third period sealed their fate.
The Sabres looked outmatched on Thursday night. They couldn’t seem to generate many quality offensive chances and sustain much possession in the Capitals zone. It is easy to use the excuse that it is their first game of the year and that the roster looks a lot different, which are both arguments that can be made. But in a 56 game season, they don’t really have time to be making those excuses.
Want your voice heard? Join the Sabre Noise team!
Fast forward to last night. The Sabres looked like a much-improved team compared to the night before. They were creating quality chances and limiting the Capitals’ offense with quality defensive play. The Sabres outshot the Capitals by 10 and never committed a penalty throughout the entire game. They flat out out-played Washington.
But despite all this, the Sabres still could not win. Buffalo went 0-5 on the power play and dropped their second game in as many days to the Capitals. They lost last night 2-1. We saw Coach Krueger mix up the lines mid-game, something that he did not do on Thursday.
He replaced Tage Thompson with Sam Reinhart on the first line late in the second period. That line of Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, and Reinhart immediately looked like the best line as one of their first shifts together was almost entirely in the Capitals zone for over two minutes. So it will be interesting to see if they will keep that line going forward.
The Sabres looked like two different teams in each game. But the one thing that was the same each time was the result. So don’t be surprised to see some changes come Monday night’s game vs the Flyers. Maybe some potential line changes such as featuring Reinhart on the top line with Eichel and Hall, and also getting Jeff Skinner more playing time by making him a top-six forward.
I know it is early on in the season, but the Sabres don’t have much time to try and find answers to their problems. In a 56-game season, there isn’t the luxury to take time to get into the swing of things if you expect to make a run at a Stanley Cup Playoff spot.