Sabres Win Third In A Row
The Buffalo Sabres won their third in a row Thursday night 4-1 against the Dallas Stars. The Sabres were in tough against a strong Stars team but overall their play was good enough to churn out a good “road win” as they say.
The Sabres opened the scoring seven minutes into the first thanks to some terrific passing by Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart.
There’s not much to say here. Two great play makers set up their line mate with a wide-open net. Funny thing is this goal was given an expected goals value of only 15% by moneypuck.com. I suspect the key factors for that are Vesey’s angle of shot and that the model likely doesn’t have Ben Bishop sailing away in the wrong direction.
Speaking of goaltenders sailing away, the Stars would find the equalizer just under four and a half minutes into the second period when Linus Ullmark was caught doing much of the same as Bishop.
The Stars maintain good possession here, recovering the puck after Ullmark’s kick save and reloading Miro Heiskanen for another attempt. Ullmark’s attempted glove save leaves him out of position but it’s Jamie Benn’s ability to separate from Johan Larsson that creates the goal. Larsson has good body position initially but in trying to follow the puck lost his man for a split second.
With just under four minutes remaining in the second the Sabres would retake the lead in what feels like a long overdue goal for Rasmus Dahlin.
This is simply a really good wrist shot that Ben Bishop was never going to see. Credit to Curtis Lazar, who had a phenomenal game, with the screen in front.
The Sabres were able to hold off the Stars in the third period, which included a clutch penalty kill (I never thought I’d say those words this year) and two empty netters by Michael Frolik (first as a sabre) and Zemgus Girgensons,
Notes from the game:
Performance’s like Lazar’s over the last five games or so are always a very interesting study on the gap between the eye test and the numbers. The fans are loving his play right now, the numbers however, not so much. In an attempt to bridge the gap a bit, it is worth pointing out the Lazar’s usage lately has been very defensive, receiving the 2nd lowest offensive zone start % over the last five games (19.05). Against the Stars, Lazar’s usage was bumped up to 42.86% and he posted the 2nd highest CF% and expected goals for among Sabres forwards. He seems to have earned the trust of the coaching staff so we’ll see if they continue to reward him with slightly better usage.
Dahlin finished the night with the best possession and expected goals for stats of any Sabres defender, but he also received the 2nd lowest TOI at 5v5 and the 2nd highest offensive zone start % (62.5). There’s certainly nothing wrong with taking it slow when it comes young defenders and after the rough start Dahlin had it’s a welcome change to his game. However, with the Sabres regularly going with seven defensemen, you have to wonder if they’re missing on a good opportunity to expand his role. Helping him regain his confidence is one thing, but if Dahlin is to take the next step forward in his development, he’ll have to learn how to go up against the other team’s top guys in non-ideal situations.
Currently Dahlin’s QoC (quality of competition) CF% is 49.83, which would be the lowest/easiest faced by any regular defender on the Sabres. He’s also got the 2nd lowest QoT (quality of teammate) CF% of the regular defenders, meaning he’s usually out there with other players that aren’t generating a positive impact in terms of shot attempts. It might be worthwhile in the long run to have Dahlin out there in tougher situations against better competition but this time with better teammates. In the end, it’s the exact reality you want to be preparing him for.
(numbers courtesy of naturalstattrick.com)
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