Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) – After winning their first three games of the season, the Buffalo Sabres carry a two-game losing streak into Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Despite that, Buffalo is 3-1-1, which has them in second place in the Atlantic Division.
Cody Eakin will miss his third-straight game with an upper-body injury. Head coach Don Granato is hoping to have him back Thursday in Anaheim against the Ducks.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are also on a two-game losing streak and are 2-2-1 overall. The main reason is they’ve given up four or more goals in four of the five games and are 29th in league goals-against average at 4.00. In contrast, the Sabres are third, giving up 2.00 goals per-game.
Judging from Monday's morning skate, it looks like Craig Anderson will go in net for the Sabres. He’s 2-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against and a .933 save percentage.
A big reason Buffalo has lost its last two games is the team has only scored a total of two goals. Head coach Don Granato admitted they’re making opposing goaltenders look good.
“We have no question, because of pressing. We’re overthinking it a little bit and we’re one instant tense after we create the scoring chance. There’s not that relaxation,” Granato said following Monday's morning skate.
You might think that Granato has been harping on that point to his players. However, Granato believes if he did this, it wouldn’t work.
“If you bring too much attention to it, it can complicate things, because there’s a psychology behind it," Granato said. "You’ve got to approach it with confidence.”
The Sabres are playing a team with a lot of talent. Steven Stamkos has started the season with four goals and five assists for nine points in five games. Nikita Kucherov is out injured, but they still have Brayden Point and others.
Against the Boston Bruins, the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak owned the Sabres. Granato is aware of it, and is addressing it ahead of Monday's matchup with Tampa Bay.
“Our opportunity is against the other lines," Granato said. "There’s enough money under the salary cap to have one extremely good top line, so it’s dealing with a line like that and then being able to score in situations against the other three lines. Our team has to progress in both.”
Colin Miller leads the Sabres in scoring with five assists in five games this season.
Other injuries for Tampa Bay includes former Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian, who’s out long-term with a lower-body injury.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is the first time these two teams have played since Dec. 31, 2019.
It’s interesting that the Lightning are 2-0-0 on the road and 0-2-1 on home ice.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is considered the best goalie in the world, but he’s struggled this season. Against Buffalo, he’s 11-1-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage.
Tampa Bay's other goalie is Brian Elliott. He hasn’t played yet this year, but against the Sabres, he’s 17-3-2 with a 1.88 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
Stamkos has 18 goals in 42 career games against the Sabres.
Skinner - Cozens - Hinostroza
Bjork - Ruotsalainen - Hayden
Asplund - Thompson - Olofsson
Caggiula - Girgensons - Okposo
Butcher - Dahlin
Bryson - Miller
Hagg - Pysyk
Wolanin - Samuelsson
Join Schopp and the Bulldog for pregame coverage on WGR starting at 6 p.m. ET when they’ll be joined by Granato, Victor Olofsson and Jacob Bryson.