Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – The Buffalo Sabres started Saturday off just like they left off in Seattle on Thursday - terrible.
Just 16 seconds into the game, Colin Miller gave the puck to the Detroit Red Wings behind the net, and then Pius Suter got multiple pokes at Dustin Tokarski before finally scoring his second goal of the season.
Buffalo didn’t look good until around the 10-minute mark, and from there on, they looked like the team that started the season 5-1-1. Well, at least into the third period. Tyler Bertuzzi put on a clinic, scoring two goals at 13:24 and 14:54 to erase the well-earned 3-1 lead for the Sabres.
Bertuzzi wasn’t done, because he assisted on Moritz Seider’s first NHL goal in overtime, capping off a four-point night.
It was utterly amazing how the Sabres went from being in complete control of the game to getting uptight, because Detroit made it 3-2.
Rasmus Asplund had two assists in this game, as he now leads the Sabres in scoring with 10 points (4+6) in 11 games. The winger has points in six-straight games, scoring three goals and five assists for eight points. He has points in eight out of nine games, and is Buffalo’s best two-way forward.
However, but it was his weak play in overtime along the wall allowing Seider to get by him and in on Tokarski, who never came out to challenge the rookie defenseman.
On the goal that got the Red Wings back into the game, Jacob Bryson was late getting to Bertuzzi. Bryson and Miller were on the ice for three of the four Red Wings goals.
The most troubling goal was Detroit’s game-tying goal. Bertuzzi was allowed to come up ice with speed, meaning there was too much of a gap between the defensemen and the forwards. Once again, Rasmus Dahlin got totally walked to allow Bertuzzi to get in on Tokarski, and the veteran winger scores.
It is, at least, the fourth or fifth time this season that Dahlin has been totally overmatched in 1-on-1 situations. He gets caught looking at the puck instead of playing the man.
I’ve covered the NHL for many years and that happens to every defenseman in the league, at least, once per-year. However, I have never seen it happen to one guy time-and-time again.
The sad thing about it is Dahlin scored a goal and played pretty well right up to that point. He played 21:10, but the only thing that fans are going to remember is the bad 10 seconds, not the decent 21 minutes.
When I asked Dahlin if he’s been able to see the problems he has 1-on-1, he said he's been working on it. When I asked him to elaborate, he said it's his off side, which he says he's not used to playing.
"He slipped it through, so I’ve got to work it,” Dahlin said following the loss.
When Bertuzzi walked Dahlin to tie the game, the Sabres defenseman was out on the ice with Colin Miller, but he played most of the game with Will Butcher. Ever since Henri Jokiharju got hurt on opening night, Dahlin has played with Butcher. It’s gone on 10 games and it’s been a disaster. I can’t figure out for the life of me why head coach Don Granato keeps them together.
Dahlin played his best hockey when he was paired with former Sabres defenseman Will Borgen. On most nights, Mark Pysyk is a very solid player who makes very few errors. Pysyk is almost 30-years-old and has played 464 NHL games.
Maybe it wouldn’t work, but I think Pysyk's influence would be huge for Dahlin. Buffalo has lost four-straight games, and in two of those games, they blew two-goal leads. What do they have to lose?
Granato said Dahlin is a smart guy, and he’s very confident that he will solve this current recurring problem. I think the best way to help him solve it is to get him out there with a solid veteran.
Let’s be very clear on this: the Sabres didn’t lose this game because of Dahlin. They got uptight as a team and were lucky they didn’t lose in regulation, as Tokarski made big saves.
This loss hurts and there’s no excuse for it. The Red Wings had lost four-straight games and were on the ropes, down 3-1 with 6:30 left in the game. That game has to get into the garage 10-out-of-10 times, especially since you let a 2-0 lead in Los Angeles go to waste against the Kings.
Before the season started, I said the easiest part of the schedule was the first 11 games. I felt that this team had shown enough improvement to get 14 out of 22 points. Had they held on Saturday, they would’ve gotten 13 points. Instead it’s 12, because they only got one of the last eight points that were on the table.
It’s important not to ignore the 5-1-1 start. It happened, but so has 0-3-1 since.
Now the schedule gets quite a bit harder with games coming up against the Washington Capitals, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins. This team is very fragile right now and could be flirting with an eight-game losing streak when it could’ve been, and should’ve been, broken on Saturday.
Now we get to see what this group is made of.