Ducks Prove Dominant in Buffalo

William Carlson scored two goals Monday afternoon.

William Carlson scored two goals Monday afternoon.

“This is only been three games” “It’s only been three games” “It’s only been three games”

As I continue to tell myself this, my opinions on this Buffalo Sabres hockey club continue to develop.  Although Buffalo has played two of the top teams in the NHL, the Sabres compete level and skill appear eerily reminiscent to the product that was placed on the ice last season; a season that was worst in franchise history.  Offseason additions of Matt Moulson, Josh Gorges, and Brian Gionta among others brought hope that Buffalo would be more competitive.  This has been far from the case as Buffalo has allowed 40+ shots in each of their first three games.  On the season, Buffalo has been outshot 131-67.  The Sabres recorded 12 shots tonight.  The franchise record for lowest shots in regular season game was 11 @ Boston in 1981.  Ted Nolan was visibly angry after the game but maintained his composure. 

“We were bad.  It looked like an NHL team going up against a pee-wee team.”

The Sabres got off to a miserable start as the team found itself on the penalty kill for nearly half of the first period.  Although discipline was not the issue in the second and third periods, poor play and a general lack of effort were.  The Ducks scored once in each of the first two periods and three times in the third.  Sabres #2 goaltender Michael Neuvirth was distraught about both his and the overall team performance after the game. 

“You cannot give up 44 shots to some of the best players of the world.  I felt comfortable but five goals against is too much.  We need to be 100% better tomorrow.”

Neuvirth looked strong early, but as time wore on, he wore out.  Three third period goals sent fans to the exits early.  Ducks goaltender cruised to a twelve save shutout.  To my account, Sam Reinhart offered the only true scoring chance other than the goal of Tyler Ennis that was set up beautifully by Matt Moulson.  Through three games, only two players have scored (Ennis/Girgensons). 

Tomorrow will be a major test for Buffalo as they travel to Raleigh to play the Carolina Hurricanes.  Carolina is a team that has struggled defensively, allowing nine goals to the New York Islanders in their first two games.  This team knows that there are not any excuses.  In order to win tomorrow, Buffalo will need better production from its second defensive pair that is composed of newcomers Andre Benoit and Andrej Mezaros.  Both have struggled thus far and tonight was no different.  Benoit committed two penalties in the first period and Mezaros failed to accurately make several exit passes out of the D-Zone.  After being asked about potential changes to the lineup, Nolan did not appear hesitant to option of making changes.  I would not be surprised to see Nikita Zadorov, a healthy scratch, get his opportunity in Carolina.  I am not pressing the panic button quite yet as top Western Conference talent is elite, but the next few games will give a much better indication of this teams ability.  After Carolina, the Sabres play two home games Friday and Saturday night against Florida and Boston.