The Blues lost back to back games for the first time this season on Saturday night with a flat, uninspiring, and tired looking effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They also managed to lose Zach Sanford to injury, which means that the list of wounded Blues has now grown to five forwards. The Blues still sit atop the Central and the West, but it’s by two points now.
To be frank, that they’ve been playing as well as they have is a testament to the locker room environment on this team. The call-ups, especially Nathan Walker, have fit in very well and no one is coasting. Today we’re going to get an opportunity to see if the team’s abilities to encourage buy-in from new guys will continue to be effective. Jordan Kyrou and Austin Poganski will be playing tonight:
Lines: Perron-O’Reilly-Bozak, Schwartz-Schenn-Kyrou, Barbashev-Thomas-Brouwer, MacEachern-de la Rose-Poganski— Tom Timmermann (@tomtimm) December 10, 2019
This is a prime opportunity for Kyrou to show his stuff. Most injury call-ups would kill to get the opportunity to play on a team’s second line, let alone a second line with Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn. The team’s been slipping offensively and their power play was disastrous on Saturday, going 0-for-5. That’s not so much necessarily the fault of the current line-up as it’s the fault of the mid-season injuries becoming a burden.
Find me a team who can miss five forwards and still be ok, especially when one of those forwards is one of the top goal scorers in the league.
Luckily for the Blues’ PP, the Sabres have one of, if not the worst penalty kills in the league at 73.3% effectiveness. That hasn’t stopped Buffalo from being a solid 8-3-3 on their own ice, but it shouldn’t when you have Jack Eichel scoring 18 goals so far. Overall, the Sabres are playing pretty good hockey - they’ve dropped off from their torrid start to the season but they’re 6-3-3 in their last six games and sit third in the Atlantic Division. Last season, the home team took the win in each game, with the Blues’ loss being in extra time. The Blues are 12-1-1 against the Sabres since 2011, but this might not be the same squad that killed Ryan O’Reilly’s love for hockey (temporarily, thank God).