BUFFALO – Right now, the moments are often proving to be too big for the Sabres as they pursue their first playoff spot since 2011.
A team comprised of mostly 20-somethings and neophytes enters this afternoon’s game against the New York Rangers at KeyBank Center reeling, having lost three straight games and five out of the last six.
Thursday’s embarrassing 10-4 loss to the Dallas Stars ranks as one of the Sabres’ worst losses in recent memory.
How bad was it? In having his four-game winning streak snapped, Eric Comrie became the first goalie in the Sabres’ 53-year history to allow 10 goals in a home game, according to Sportsnet Stats.
The same team that briefly moved into the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot two weeks ago now trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by six points.
In some recent games, the Sabres have looked frazzled, becoming impatient and forcing plays. At times, most recently late in Thursday’s game, they’ve imploded.
“They’re pressing for offense and they’re pressing and it’s just allowing us to be more vulnerable,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Unfortunately, we’re always going to be in a process and right now, these have to be learning moments. These have to be moments you gain experience through. And they will be. We’re going to bring it to their attention. We’re going to focus on it. We’ve talked about it this morning. We’ve reviewed it this morning and they’re going to get better.
“It doesn’t mean they’re going to fix it immediately and it doesn’t mean they can’t fix it immediately. What you go through every day you have to use for your benefit after a game like that, unfortunately. On the positive side, it’s obviously an attention-grabber, and that gives us an opportunity … to look at it and start honing in on more detail.”
Winger Victor Olofsson said the Sabres aired some things out Friday morning.
“We all kind of said what we felt,” he said. “We still have a really good hockey team and I feel like it’s maybe been slipping in the details these last few games and we’ve had a couple tight games before this one.”
Before Dallas throttled them, the Sabres lost two tight games. In Monday’s 3-2 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers and Tuesday’s 3-2 road defeat to the New York Islanders, they played well enough to win.
On Tuesday, they lost on a late disputed goal, and Olofsson said the frustration carried into Thursday’s game.
“I felt like we were a little impatient and we starting cheating the game a little bit, and against a good team like Dallas it’s going to bite you back real quick,” he said.