OPINION: Losing at home killing Sabres' chances

Buffalo has lost six of its last eight games on home ice

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres' 7-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, of course, isn’t good, but for me, getting water boarded in consecutive games isn’t the issue.

For me, it's 16 losses in 27 home games this season. That's the reason why the Sabres are currently sitting on the outside looking in on a playoff spot.

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If just five of those games were wins in the standings, Buffalo still wouldn’t have a great home record, but they'd be comfortably in the No. 1 Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference with games in-hand. The Sabres would also have the Tampa Bay Lighting and Toronto Maple Leafs in their sights in the Atlantic Division standings.

Had the Sabres just picked up five more loser points, they again, would be in playoff position.

Yes, there have been a few bad road losses along the way, but not as many as they’ve had at home.

Sabres head coach Don Granato has mentioned numerous times after home losses, including Saturday, that his team tends to over pass at home, giving up great scoring chances. A couple times he’s said they try to pass the puck right into the net.

Against Calgary, less than halfway through the game, Buffalo had four shots and two goals. That means Jacob Markstrom was able to stand there with a 50% save percentage and face no scoring chances in the second period. Not one.

Granato talks about overcomplicating the game by passing up the scoring chances, and they wind up with none. When you play like that, you lose six of the last eight games at home.

The reason we’re even talking about a playoff race is the Sabres are a very good road team. They’ve beaten most of the top teams in the Western Conference on their ice and, in some cases, beaten them soundly.

Before losing to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Sabres took seven-of-eight points on their Western Conference road trip. In their last 12 games away from home, the team is 9-1-2.

One thing Granato is trying to teach this team is when they don’t have their A-game, they must revert to a B-game that can also result in a victory. That takes simplifying their game.

Granato said Saturday they tried to carry the puck through the Calgary defense, which only resulted in turnovers. They didn’t understand the simple play was the right play.

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The Sabres left immediately after the game for Los Angeles where, they play the Kings on Monday, the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. They’re then home for one game against the Leafs, and it’s off to Florida to play two teams that give them fits: the Lightning and Florida Panthers.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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