So far, through six weeks of the shortened NHL season, approaching week seven, the Buffalo Sabres are now 5-7-0-2, joint alongside 12 points, fresh off of a 3-2 regulation win over the New Jersey Devils in a Saturday matinee.
Buffalo got back into the win column following a three-game losing streak, dropping two games against the New York Islanders and one game against the Washington Capitals. Buffalo has struggled five-on-five throughout the year and their struggles were clearly evident, coming back from the two-week COVID break that they dealt with. The Sabres dropped both games of a back-to-back against the Islanders, scoring only one goal in two games and losing a 3-1 contest against the Capitals, only goals from both coming on the power play.
We knew that there would be struggles coming back from the two-week COVID hiatus, I think everyone involved knew that. But I didn’t think that scoring five-on-five goals would be such a rare occurrence for a team full of experience. Scoring goals should not be a rare occurrence for this Buffalo team with players such as Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall and Jeff Skinner, among several others.
So far this season, Hall and Eichel have had a fair amount of points for themselves, however, both are being paid to score goals. Eichel, thus far, has two goals, while Hall has one, dating back to the first game of the shortened campaign. Power play sniper Victor Olofsson has six goals this year, five of which he’s scored on the power play.
Jeff Skinner has not scored a goal so far this season, but is seeing his chances increase by game. It has been a tough stretch for the former 40-goal scorer, but he seems to get his chances playing on a line with Curtis Lazar.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has not joined the Buffalo Sabres on their road trip and head coach Ralph Krueger doesn’t expect him to, as he recovers from his bout with COVID 19. Krueger says Ristolainen is still feeling fatigued, and in an article by a Finnish reporter, Ristolainen describes his battle with the virus, stating that he felt like he did not know if he was going to wake up in the morning. The virus affects people differently, but to hear how badly it affected and is still affecting Ristolainen is scary.
The Sabres are scheduled to take on the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at 7:00pmET. The team will benefit having Dylan Cozens back, but the team took a big hit elsewhere when defensemen Jack McCabe went down with a knee injury, in which Krueger said he is expected to miss some ice time.