OPINION: Sabres Week In Review: Stagnate play leads to losing skid

A glance at the last week of Sabres hockey

Buffalo, N.Y. (WGR 550) - The Buffalo Sabres had another tough week of hockey in their path and were, once again, unable to produce consistent success.

The Sabres played four games since Monday, March 13 and posted another losing record of 1-2-1. Buffalo defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in comeback fashion to start the week, but then lost three-straight games. They lost in a shootout to the Washington Capitals, and then lost in regulation in embarrassing fashion to the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins.

After, yet, another losing week and with only 13 games left this season, the Sabres are on the verge of being eliminated from the playoff race.

As of Sunday evening, Buffalo is six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who control the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with 78 points. They are also eight points behind the New York Islanders, who control the top Wild Card spot with 80 points.

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Here are three observations from the last week of Sabres hockey:

Zemgus Girgensons
Photo credit Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

1.) Finish the game

In their only win this week, the Sabres needed to complete a comeback, and in doing so, played at 100% for the entire game. However, in their other three games, Buffalo did not play their best the entire game.

Obviously, no team is perfect, but the Sabres have had extremely lackluster performances over the past few weeks of games, and those negative qualities were exposed many times in the past week.

Buffalo gave up a pair of two-goal leads in an eventual shootout loss to the Capitals, they were unable to get anything going in a 5-2 loss to the Flyers, and laid a pathetic goose egg against Boston, loing 7-0 to close out the week.

These types of games are unacceptable when in a tight playoff race, and hamper the team's ability to gain confidence and string wins together.

Dylan Cozens
Photo credit Kyle Ross - USA TODAY Sports

2.) Stop jumbling lines

For the majority of the season, the consensus first line for the Sabres consisted of Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch and Jeff Skinner. This line was one of the best in the NHL, and was a key part of the Sabres' offensive output.

Other lines remained constant as well, such as the "kid line" that consisted of Dylan Cozens, JJ Peterka, and Jack Quinn that provided fun, fast, and high event play.

There are times when lines need to change for injury reasons or when one player just isn't working out and they need something fresh. The Sabres have been unable to find a fresh new lineup in quite sometime now, and it may be time to go back to basics.

Rasmus Dahlin
Photo credit John E. Sokolowski - USA TODAY Sports

3.) Play with pride

With only 13 games to go and playoff chances nearing zero, the Sabres need to utilize the remaining games to build towards next season. They can't fall flat and limp into the offseason, as it isn't good for team chemistry or morale.

This isn't a season to be ashamed of, and it shouldn't finish as if it were one. The Sabres have proven they can be a competitive team on a semi-consistent basis.

There will be things to address in the offseason and, as always, trust the process and come back better next year.

Dylan Cozens
Photo credit John E. Sokolowksi - USA TODAY Sports

Game of the week: Monday, March 14 - 4-3 win vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The one bright spot of the week was Buffalo's victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This was Tuch's first game back into the lineup after missing several games due to injury. He, along with the rest of the team, flourished.

The two teams were even through one period of play, but Toronto scored two quick goals early on in the second. The Sabres rallied late in the second with a goal from Quinn, and continued their dominance into the third.

Tuch scored twice in the final 20 minutes of play, while Dylan Cozens added his own as the Sabres held on for a 4-3 victory.

This was a very hard-fought, well-played game by the Sabres. They stayed in the picture all night long, and capitalized when they were able to take control of the game.

Alex Tuch
Photo credit John E. Sokolowksi - USA TODAY Sports

Player of the week: Alex Tuch

As mentioned before, Tuch returned to the Sabres lineup this week after recovering from an injury and it was a much-needed return.

The Syracuse-native only recorded two goals in four games this week, but with a player like Tuch, it's not just about the statistics. Tuch brings a sense of calm and purpose to the whole Sabres lineup.

Whether he's on the ice or off the ice, the team looks more relaxed as a whole. A player of his caliber is one-of-a-kind, and can sometimes be the piece that can be a difference maker.

Rasmus Dahlin
Photo credit Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

The week ahead:

The Sabres only have three games in the next week, two of which will be on home ice and one away.

Buffalo starts the week at home hosting the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, then have off until Friday when the welcome the New Jersey Devils to KeyBank Center.

They close out the week on Saturday in the second night of a back-to-back against the New York Islanders, a game that could have enormous playoff implications if Buffalo can string a couple wins together.

Photo credit Losi and Gangi
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Featured Image Photo Credit: Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports