OPINION: Three observations: Déjà vu on Long Island

Three-straight games against the Islanders, three separate 5-2 losses for the Sabres in Uniondale

It was another long afternoon on Long Island for the Buffalo Sabres, as they lost their third-straight game to the New York Islanders by a score of 5-2. That's three games in a row of losing to the Islanders by the same score.

A positive for the Sabres on Sunday came from Jeff Skinner, as he finally found the back of the net for his first goal of the season. Unfortunately, Skinner goals still only count as one goal, and Colin Miller netted Buffalo's other goal in this one.

Once again, let us take a look at three observations from Sunday afternoon's game:

1.) More of the same results with no solutions

On Thursday, the Islanders struck first with a couple goals in the first period.

Buffalo found the net first on Saturday afternoon, but couldn't hold a second period outburst that saw the Islanders score four goals.

Then on Sunday afternoon, the Islanders waited a period, but they scored the first, second and third goals of the game.

No matter what the formula is, the Sabres got the same result out of all three games.

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger has tried tinkering with his lines here and there, but overall, he hasn't figured out a solution with his system to get any of his relied-upon scorers the goals this team needs to compete.

2.) Dahlin situation something to monitor

Rasmus Dahlin has not had a good year so far.

The Sabres defenseman has had some of the worst luck when it comes to getting goals to go in at 5-on-5 while he's on the ice. With Dahlin on the ice, the Sabres have a shooting percentage of 3.23%, second-worst in the league. That means that's everyone's shooting percentage on the ice, not just his.

Defensively, he's become more of a problem.

Dahlin has an expected goals-against per-60 minutes at 5-on-5 of 2.83 when you adjust for score and venue, according to Evolving Hockey. That's the 11th-worst rate in the league among defensemen who have played at least 250 minutes. That's only the expected amount.

The Sabres are actually allowing 3.77 goals-against per-60 minutes at 5-on-5 when you adjust for score and venue (taking off the adjustment reduces these figures to 2.79 expected goals-against per-60 and 3.76 goals-against per-60, but that keeps him at 11th-worst in the league for expected goals-against and puts him up to fifth-worst in the league under these metrics, respectively.)

On the Islanders' third goal on Sunday, Dahlin occupied the front of the net and made contact with Islanders goal scorer, Casey Cizikas. Cizikas found a soft spot in Dahlin's coverage and broke free. Dahlin doesn't notice him on the play and tries to go for the puck-carrier, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, opening up Cizikas for a one-timer to put the Islanders up by three.

Dahlin has one goal and 12 points on the season. Only two of those points have come while at 5-on-5, both being primary assists. Even more alarming than his defensive struggles are his offensive struggles at 5-on-5.

Whether it's the system that brings Dahlin down or it's Dahlin regressing from a good rookie season, the Sabres need to figure out the problem now, and not later.

3.) Sabres continue to struggle to generate shots on goal

The Sabres had done a decent job earlier in the year generating shots on goal, but over the last six games, Buffalo hasn't been able to generate many shots at any game state.

The Sabres have not generated, at least, 30 shots on goal since their 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 25, the first loss of their current seven-game losing streak.

Between the lack of shots combined with the amount of goals going in on them, the Sabres need to figure out, at least, one of these issues if they ever plan on getting out of this rut.


The Sabres have one more stop to make before heading back to Buffalo. They'll travel to Philadelphia to play the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Coverage of the Sabres and Flyers begins at 6 p.m. EST with the Paul William Beltz Pregame Show with Mike Schopp and the Bulldog. Puck drop is scheduled to take place just after 7 p.m. EST on the radio flagship of the Sabres - WGR Sports Radio 550.

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