Systems Analysis: How a lack of puck-support helped sink Ralph Krueger's Buffalo Sabres
At almost the halfway mark of their season, the 2021 Buffalo Sabres have been shutout as many times as they have won. This seems outlandish for a modern NHL team, so unlikely that it should be hard to believe, but these are the Sabres after all. Their fans are accustomed to these kinds of streaks -- although this particular one might feature in the record books.
What's going on in Buffalo?
Honestly, this not something you can figure out with a single video analysis piece. We could stretch this one subject to such lengths that everyone involved in The Hobbit films might blush, and the subject would be every bit as terrible. The issues grew exponentially as the season went on. They got out of the hands of the coaching staff, leading to Ralph Krueger's dismissal on Wednesday.
The Sabres delayed this move for as long as possible, but as the losing streak continued and morale dropped, it became inevitable, especially in a season where the pandemic and a tight cap have limited their capacity for structural roster change. And so, on Thursday when the Sabres meet the Boston Bruins, Don Granato will take Kruger's spot in an interim duty. He is the fourth coach of the team in five years.
Granato has his work cut out for him. First on the agenda is sharpening the Sabres dull blade so that they might cut more deeply when they plunge into the offensive zone. Improvement shouldn't be too difficult; they're the least prolific team at 5-on-5 presently. The puck hasn't favoured them -- Buffalo surpasses many other teams in expected goals per 60 -- but not all of the team's offensive woes can be chalked to bad luck, as generating consistently great scoring chances has been a struggle for them, too.
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