Breaking down Buffalo’s 4-1 loss to Arizona

March 22, 2018

The Buffalo Sabres took on the fellow basement dwelling Arizona Coyotes in a game that gave everyone flashbacks to 2015. It’s three years later and both teams have nothing to show for it, but at least we got to see Jack Eichel and Dylan Strome go head to head.

It took the Coyotes just three and a half minutes to open the scoring. On the power play, Alex Goligoski’s point shot is stopped by Chad Johnson, but Dylan Strome banks the rebound off his skates and in the net for his second of the year.

The Sabres would respond midway through the period with a rebound goal of their own. Evan Rodrigues’ point shot is stopped by Antii Rantaa, but he comes so far out to make the save that Jordan Nolan has all day to put this rebound on his backhand and into the net, tying the game at one.

The Coyotes retook the lead on another power play goal as Derek Stepan’s toe drag and shot finds the bottom corner giving his team a 2-1 lead.

*Ignore the overexcited Coyotes twitter account, it’s safe for work.

Scott Wilson appears to get his stick on this just enough to subtly change the angle as it goes towards the net but more importantly changes speeds as it completely fools Johnson.

Both teams exchanged chances in the second period but no goals were scored. Johnson took a shot off the mask early on and while he stayed in for a bit, he eventually left the game and was replaced by Ullmark for the remainder of the night.

The Coyotes extend their lead to two goals early in the third thanks to Richard Panik’s tenth of the season.

Justin Falk disrupts the first shot from Clayton Keller but the puck trickles down to Panik, who isn’t well defended by Nathan Beaulieu.

While the Sabres had a tough time getting on the score sheet, it was nice to see the younger players creating chances all night. This one off the stick of Brendan Guhle on the power play is an example of what Sabres fans will be looking forward to next year.

Max Domi would add an empty-netter to seal the deal for the Coyotes, final score 4-1.

The Sabres managed to win the possession battle, out-attempting the Coyotes 51 to 42 at 5v5, but their expected goals for was 1.76. Considering the quality of opponent, this is dreadful. They generated some decent zone time but many of their shifts in the offensive zone amounted to nothing more than perimeter passing and way wide shot attempts.

Aside from a few matchups like Christian Dvorak and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the Sabres fared pretty well overall. The exception here may be Kyle Okposo, who usually does alright in the shot share department but finished with a disastrous CF% of 35.52.

Other Notes:

As he gets more comfortable with the NHL game, I become more comfortable buying into Brendan Guhle as a core player moving forward. Guhle once again finished with impressive possession numbers at a CF% of 64 despite heavy defensive zone starts. He was also on the ice for thirteen scoring chances, three coming off his stick and six against. As for the eye test, he looks even better, if your eyes can keep up with him that is. The speed from the defensive zone all the way into the offensive zone is something the Sabres have lacked for years. It’s a small sample size, and there are areas of his game where he needs to improve, but Guhle is going to be a treat to watch for years to come.

Ryan O’Reilly has just two even-strength goals over his last 20 games and 32 even-strength points on the year. Even if you believed O’Reilly was the best defending forward in the league (he’s probably not), it’s still not enough justify the price tag when the point totals are this low. He’s been on a line with the hot hand of Sam Reinhart and continues to be a non-factor offensively. His contract is big and rather tricky with it’s bonus heavy structure, but you have to wonder how long before Jason Botterill entertains offers on him, especially with the Casey Mittelstadt era not far away.

Michael Ghofrani
About Michael Ghofrani

Michael Ghofrani has been working on finding hockey statistics that can break down and explain certain game events. He's also a Sabres follower from Toronto doing his best to fend off Leafs Nation.

Browse more articles by Michael Ghofrani.

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