Here’s a formula for making a bad situation worse: play two road games in a row against the Central Division’s most explosive teams.
The Buffalo Sabres are finding that out this week as the Chicago Blackhawks picked up where the Detroit Red Wings left off, extending the struggling Sabres’ road losing streak to 10 games with a 6-2 beating. The bigger story should be that the Blackhawks took a temporary division/conference lead and tied the New York Rangers atop the NHL with 62 points, but there’s no denying that it’s tough to look away from the Sabres’ train wreck.
Brutal Buffalo stretches
The Sabres were 10-6-0 when they lost to the Boston Bruins when that notorious Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller collision happened on Nov. 12. Since then, their record dropped to 19-22-5 (which means they went 9-16-5) in about two months.
That big picture stretch is bad enough, but things have been even worse since mid-December, as they went 3-9-2 in a disconcerting 14-game span. It’s not as if every loss has been a meltdown, but their offense has been sputtering the entire time. They’ve peaked at three goals – a mark they’ve hit three times – and have been shut out twice in those 14 contests.
Moving the increasingly reasonable trade/firing talk aside for a moment, the Sabres’ more immediate outlook is worrisome in its own right. They’re currently eight points out of eighth place, but that could jump to nine if the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals swap the Southeast Division lead. Either way, their postseason hopes are evaporating almost as quickly as their confidence.
The good-but-mostly-bad news is that Buffalo will have plenty of opportunities to break their away game issues going forward. The last four games of December are all on the road, starting with what could be a very challenging game against a Jets team that is far more formidable in hockey-mad Winnipeg.
Going into the season, tonight’s game probably looked like a clash between two Cup contenders from opposite conferences. With the wildly different paths both teams are taking, it instead ended up being a stark contrast between haves and have-nots.
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.
Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.
If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.
Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.
After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”
The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.
It wasn’t too long ago that a report surfaced saying that the Avalanche were willing to listen to offers on forward Matt Duchene.
When a player’s struggling and rumors start swirling, one of two things tends to happen.
Either the player involved lets it affect his on-ice performance in a negative way or he’s motivated by the trade talk and turns his struggles around.
Instead of pouting, the 24-year-old rolled up his sleeves and got to work.
In October, Duchene scored a goal and an assist in 10 games, but things changed in a hurry when November rolled around.
The Avs forward has picked up at least one point in 11 of 13 games this month.
Duchene has 11 goals and nine assists in November and he still has a game to go before the calendar flips to December.
“Obviously, things completely flip-flopped,” Duchene told the Denver Post. “That’s the coldest start I’ve ever had and things are good right now. Obviously, I know it could go right back, I could go cold again, that’s just the nature of the game. You just have to work every day to keep it going. The most important thing is to be able to provide offense and help the team win.”
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
A woman in a wedding dress was caught eating a burger during Saturday’s game between the Stars and Wild. (Above)
Team Europe has a number of quality goaltending options to chose from ahead of next fall’s World Cup of Hockey. (NHL.com)
Watch as some players on Nashville’s roster try to guess the lyrics to different country songs:
Former goaltender Eddie Johnston sits down for a Q & A with ESPN.com’s Shelly Anderson. (ESPN)
Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher got into a “Twitter war” with former NHLer Jim Kyte. (Puck Daddy)
Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference made a generous donation to a Syrian refugee fund. (Huffington Post)
We’re now over two days removed from last Friday’s tilt between the Bruins and the Rangers, but the coaches from both teams seem unwilling to move on.
Moments after that game, Claude Julien claimed that Henrik Lundqvist did some “acting” on the ice to sell a goalie interference call on Brad Marchand.
On Saturday, Alain Vigneault fired back by saying that Julien needed to get his eyesight checked. Vigneault also compared Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton in the 2011 Stanley Cup final to Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan in Friday’s game.
Now it was Julien’s turn to address the “issue” at hand.
Julien clarified his original comment about Lundqvist and he also tackled some of Vigneault’s comments.
“I think it’s pretty obvious what I said . . . I thought Lundqvist sold it,” said Julien. “Not for a second did I ever question Henrik Lundqvist as a person, or a goaltender or any of that. We all know how good he is as a goaltender, and I know he’s a good person. I’ve met him at the All-Star games and all that stuff.
Julien on his eyesight: “As far as my eyes, I’m not the one that compared Beleskey’s hit to Aaron Rome’s [hit]. We’ll just leave it at that.”
It’s time for both sides to move on.