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Goaltending? Defense? After the Whistle debate.


PromoTheRobot
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Hockey games are too chaotic and complex to ever blame one thing, but some numbers stand out to me over the past 10:

  • Vs. Canes: Sabres goals 2, Sabres starting goalie SV% .760
  • Vs. Panthers: 4, .884
  • Vs. Kraken: 4, .806
  • Vs. Wings: 2, .927
  • Vs. Habs 4, .962
  • Vs. Bruins 1, .818
  • Vs. Jackets 4, .667
  • Vs. Rangers 4, .861
  • Vs. Flames 0, .873
  • Vs. Penguins 2, .978

Here are some generally true statements about the modern NHL:

  • 4 goals for should be enough to win.
  • .920 SV % should be enough to win
  • SV % < .900 is not enough to win

The Sabres skaters have given their goalies enough goals to win 5 times. The Sabres won once.

The Sabres starters have given the skaters enough saves to win 3 times. The Sabres won twice and lost the 3rd in OT.

The Sabres goalies have absolutely ***** the bed statistically 7 times, giving the team no chance to win.

When the goalies have done their jobs, the skaters have done enough to win. The reverse has not really been true.

Edited by dudacek
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Dahlin does need to be benched, BUT for who? Butcher? Problem is you're going to end up benching him for someone worse. Only other option is calling up Samuelsson but do we want to throw him to the wolves at this point or wait until next year?

The interesting thing with these sort of discussions and others and the ones on Sabrespace is there are SO MANY things wrong with this team that in a way, all the dissenting opinions are partly right. 

When talking about goaltending they cut them some slack and they brought up Markstrom as a goalie just coming into his prime, but they don't mention that Markstrom is also now playing behind a team that plays good team defense. Sutter has a system of defensive responsibility that helps make goalies look better. So yes, he's playing well, but it's also the team in front of him. 

Point being we are not playing a system that has very good team D. We are attack oriented and now lose 7-4 instead of 2-1. Having said that, the goalies are bad and they are letting in easy goals at times. The defense is bad too no question. There is bad at all 3 levels of D, goalie, defensemen, and forwards playing D. 

There are so many things wrong with this team I could go on for pages and pages but what's the point? and for a tank year we are OCASSIONALLY entertaining and slightly better than expected so it might be a bad tank (picking 6, 7 or 8 ish not 1 or 2ish) and we can screw up the draft again, but we hired a bunch of draft people and maybe we get it right and we have prospects and picks and it SHOULD get better.

once we get a goalie .

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14 minutes ago, PerreaultForever said:

Dahlin does need to be benched, BUT for who? Butcher? Problem is you're going to end up benching him for someone worse. Only other option is calling up Samuelsson but do we want to throw him to the wolves at this point or wait until next year?

Not benched forever. Granato just needs to get his attention because letting him figure it out isn't working. And if you say the players get demoralized by bad goalkeeping what does watching Dahlin puke on himself every game do? Especially when there is no consequence!

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Dahlin’s play would improve remarkably if we had some type of decent goaltending. Right now he’s the guy we have to look to to get us back into games after bad goals. He has to hang onto puck longer, try and make perfect plays,, and in the NHL that gets you into trouble. 

 

I knew all along that the skaters and/or coach would get blamed for the losing, even though it’s the goaltending that is by far and away the reason. 

 

Put Dahlin and the rest of the defense in better situations and they will play better. But the goaltending is bad so let’s blame the skaters. Lol. This is such a cool team, but the fans, media and experts will say “Trade them all!” 

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9 minutes ago, bob_sauve28 said:

Dahlin’s play would improve remarkably if we had some type of decent goaltending. Right now he’s the guy we have to look to to get us back into games after bad goals. He has to hang onto puck longer, try and make perfect plays,, and in the NHL that gets you into trouble. 

 

I knew all along that the skaters and/or coach would get blamed for the losing, even though it’s the goaltending that is by far and away the reason. 

 

Put Dahlin and the rest of the defense in better situations and they will play better. But the goaltending is bad so let’s blame the skaters. Lol. This is such a cool team, but the fans, media and experts will say “Trade them all!” 

I agree, I think a lot of Dahlia's problems are because he is trying to hard. Like Eichel feels he has to carry the team because he was a high draft pick

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Look who KA brought in on defense and in goal.  Pysyk, Hagg, Butcher, Wolanin, Subban, Tokarski, Anderson and Dell.  These guys were all sent packing by their respective former teams for nothing or not offered contracts except for by one of the worst three franchises in hockey (the others being Ott and Az). What could we reasonably expect?

The defense stinks and the goaltending is worse.  

This is a not so secret tank.  

 

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I listened to this, even though Hamilton and Harrington together are an ouroborus of idiocy and self-importance so dense I’m astounded sound waves escaped at all, much less into a microphone.  
 

Peters is either 1. Very, very stupid or 2. (More likely) playing devils advocate for the sake of it here.  
 

Nobody.  Nobody at all.  Even people who haven’t watched a game and don’t know what hockey is… NOBODY… is saying the defense and defensive play overall isn’t a problem.  But goaltendong is so obviously the one single problem, according to absolutely every available metric, pulling this team down from mediocrity to laughing stock.  It’s stark, black and white, there for everyone to read.  
 

I don’t care if Dahlin has coughed the puck up a bunch.  Yea, he needs to be better.  No, he’s objectively not as bad and the “eye test” everyone applies to him, which I’m convinced is just watching highlights go ya of the goals scored against and determining if her was on the ice either at the time or up to three minutes beforehand… ugh.  
 

 

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26 minutes ago, SDS said:

A podcast run by people who love to hear themselves talk. Hot take alert.

That episode is still worth a listen. 

8 hours ago, bob_sauve28 said:

Dahlin’s play would improve remarkably if we had some type of decent goaltending. Right now he’s the guy we have to look to to get us back into games after bad goals. He has to hang onto puck longer, try and make perfect plays,, and in the NHL that gets you into trouble. 

 

I knew all along that the skaters and/or coach would get blamed for the losing, even though it’s the goaltending that is by far and away the reason. 

 

Put Dahlin and the rest of the defense in better situations and they will play better. But the goaltending is bad so let’s blame the skaters. Lol. This is such a cool team, but the fans, media and experts will say “Trade them all!” 

Really? Dahlin wouldn't turn the puck over at the blue line if the goaltending was better? INteresting.

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6 minutes ago, PromoTheRobot said:

That episode is still worth a listen. 

Really? Dahlin wouldn't turn the puck over at the blue line if the goaltending was better? INteresting.

Three times in 2 games giving the opposing team a break away each time . All three of them when the Sabres are on the power play. But better goal tending would eliminate that.

Edited by woods-racer
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We’ve seen a lot of really bad over the last 10 years, but this may be the worst stretch of goaltending performance we’ve ever seen. In the last 14 games, the Sabres have surrendered at least five goals in 11 of them. They’ve given up at least six goals in six straight games. Six!

They’ve allowed 52 goals in those 14 games with an expected goal number of 35.73 in all situations, according to Evolving Hockey. That means they’ve allowed 16.27 goals above expected in that 14-game stretch. Over the same calendar stretch, the second-worst team in the league is the Colorado Avalanche at 9.97 goals allowed above expected. 

Just let that sink in for a moment. Since November 13th, the Sabres have allowed 6.3 goals above expected more than the second-worst team in the league. 

Going back to looking at the season as a whole, the Sabres have allowed the most goals against above expected entering play last night at 16.84 in all situations, according to Moneypuck’s model. Out of 78 qualifying goaltenders to play at least 50 minutes this season, Dustin Tokarski ranks 67th in goals saved above expected and Aaron Dell is 72nd in all situations in the twins’ model.

 

The trendy thing over the last week or so has been an attempt to pin just as much blame as the goaltenders are getting on team defense. Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying that the Sabres are a good club defensively. Their ceiling is average, where they were about a month ago. Over the last few weeks, they’ve been slightly below average. 

On the season overall, they rank 18th in shot quality against at 5v5, according to Evolving Hockey’s model. If we break out that same 14-game stretch we looked at above for the goaltenders, they are 23rd in shot quality against. As you’ll see in Moneypuck’s chart below, they’re trending in the wrong direction in terms of team defense over a rolling 10-game view at 5v5.

 

With all of that out of the way, it’s time for the truth bomb: the goaltending is still far and way the reason that this team is losing games. It’s not close. This team is not bad enough defensively to give 3.74 goals against per game over the last 14 games. 

Some of you may be saying to yourself to get out of the charts and just trust your eyes. The problem with that is that when you don’t line up what you’re watching with that stats you can be deceived. The Sabres are having breakdowns defensively, but they’re all magnified because it ends up in the net. They rarely get bailed out by their goaltenders and it makes it seem as though the Sabres are some atrocious defensive team. As I’ve laid out here, they’re slightly below league average in models that evaluate shot quality against. Even over the last few weeks, they’re not at the bottom of the league. 

Consequences

We didn’t expect this team to be anything more than a bottom-of-league club this season, but this situation is going to come with some consequences. No matter how mentally tough the players are, it’s going to start to wear them down. Eventually, they’re going to stop taking chances and being afraid to make mistakes because of their loss of confidence in their goaltenders. 

It’s a frustrating situation that is unfolding right now because we saw what kind of team they can be when they just get replacement level goaltending. They have a team on their hands that is finishing at a great rate. In Moneypuck’s model, they’re shooting 5.51 goals above expected at 5 on 5 which is good enough for fourth-best in the NHL. They’re still not generating a lot of quality offense according to expected goal models. However, they’re making the most of their chances. 

The goalies have been so poor that they’re 27th in the league (-5.01) in goal differential above expected at 5 on 5. Young players on the roster are performing well offensively and not seeing the rewards from it. 

Kevyn Adams tried to help the situation by acquiring Malcolm Subban from the Chicago Blackhawks. His debut didn’t go well over the weekend and even more concerning he suffered an apparent lower-body injury. With Dustin Tokarski in the Covid-19 protocol, Dell and Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen may be relied on moving forward if Subban is out. 20

 

Above are some quotes from Chad DeDominicis Article from the Expected Buffalo Website on where the blame lies 

 

I would demote Dahlin off of PP1 and let Bryson run it for a few games and see what happens 

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To me the problem is we don't have enough quality defensive defenseman.  DG admits that he's coaching to outscore the other team.  IIRC, he said " defense is easy.  He also said we aren't trying to win 2-1.  He's about moving the puck offensively and we just don't have the players to win like that ... yet.  

 

I do agree with his philosophy,  BTW.   It's just not going to always look good right now.  Eventually, I believe it will.  

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19 hours ago, PromoTheRobot said:

They are making the exact point I've been making about Dahlin: the guy needs to get benched just to create a consequence for his terrible play. He's a golden child right now.

Ideally, bench him, alienate him until he demands a trade, then trade him for pennies on the dollar. That's how we do it folks!

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10 hours ago, PromoTheRobot said:

That episode is still worth a listen. 

Really? Dahlin wouldn't turn the puck over at the blue line if the goaltending was better? INteresting.

He wouldn't having to be trying so hard to get a goal. You have to take chances playing from behind 

11 hours ago, PerreaultForever said:

What does this mean?

Having them play with the lead instead of always from behind 

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2 hours ago, Sakman said:

Ideally, bench him, alienate him until he demands a trade, then trade him for pennies on the dollar. That's how we do it folks!

Oh FFS. The kids needs a time out. If that's how he responds then he's trash anyway. Can you recall any player who makes goal-a-game blunders and bears no consequences? They want Dahlin to learn but all he's learning is he's not held accountable at all.

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