Friday night saw the Buffalo Sabres lose again, landing their seventh loss in a row in a season that is looking very painful. With a 14-26-3 record, they find themselves in the basement of the Atlantic Division. They’re second last in the Eastern Conference, with only the hapless Hurricanes below them. And, of course, the Edmonton Oilers are still dead last overall. Sorry for mentioning that.
So what’s going on in Buffalo?
For one, their away record stinks. They’re 4-16-1 on the road and they’re 1-8-1 in their last 10 games. There have been few highlights on the season, like the highlight reel play of goalie Michal Neuvirth who made a series of big-time saves on Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In fact, Neuvirth made 45 saves in the 2-1 loss – including a stellar stop on Brett Connolly and another good one on Nikita Kucherov’s breakaway opportunity.
“I thought he was sensational,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said. “A couple of big saves that he made, and that one that the whole building thought it was in the net when he made that glove save on it. It was a good sign to see him play the way he did.”
The “good sign” of Neuvirth’s play is coming at a good time for the Sabres, but is it enough? Sure, Buffalo ran into one of the hottest third period teams in the NHL on Friday night. And sure, they’ve had trouble scoring overall with a league-worst 81 goals. And yeah, there also in the basement in terms of goals against with 147.
While Neuvirth certainly had a darn solid game in the loss, it was also a loss. He’s currently holding a 3-11-1 record with a 3.36 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. He’s been backing Jhonas Enroth, who has also been disappointing with an 11-15-2 record and a 3.20 goals against average.
There isn’t a lot of difference between goalies in Buffalo at the moment and nobody’s really running away with the show, but Friday night may have been a confidence boost for Neuvirth. The team certainly has to hope so, especially as that glove save on Connolly makes the rounds. If nothing else, it’s a start.