The Buffalo Sabres’ losing streak has been extended to eight games after the team blew a two-goal lead twice and lost 5-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout Tuesday night. The star-studded Buffalo roster currently sits last place in the NHL with a 6-14-4 record through their first 24 games, with only four wins coming in regulation. One of the biggest questions Sabres fans are asking right now: why does head coach Ralph Krueger still have his job? If Buffalo continues on this humiliating stretch, his firing could be just around the corner.
Kevyn Adams is Angry; Ralph Krueger Being Evaluated
In a press conference last Friday, general manager (GM) Kevyn Adams made it very clear that he is fed up with the Sabres’ repeated lacklustre performances and said that he is committed to fixing the team’s issues.
“It’s just flat-out not good enough. I’m angry. I’d hope all of you are angry. I’d hope all our fans are angry. Because that means you care, and that’s a good place to start,” said Adams. “I’ve been empowered by Terry and Kim Pegula to fix this, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Since Adams’ media availability, Buffalo has gone 0-2-1 and been outscored 15-8. Expectations were set high after the GM’s presser, but the team failed to answer the bell and seemed to show no extra push or effort following his words.
Adams made a point of saying that everyone, from players to staff, is being evaluated right now. When Krueger’s name was brought up, the GM had this to say:
“We’re very honest with each other. He understands the situation that we’re in is unacceptable, that it’s flat-out not good enough.”
Krueger has lost the faith of many Sabres fans now 24 games into the season, and things only seem to be getting worse. After missing last year’s 24-team playoff format, Buffalo sits 31st in the NHL and carries a .333 points percentage (P%) almost halfway through the season, only behind the Ottawa Senators for worst P% in the league. Buffalo has officially hit rock bottom, yet the head coach seems to be sticking to his usual routine and makes very few changes to the team’s lineup and strategies game-to-game.
From Krueger’s questioning lineup decisions (see: Rieder-Eakin-Okposo), to the scratching of Jeff Skinner, Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt in crucial games, it is understandable why so many Sabres diehards have lost their patience with him. If Adams is as angry as he claims to be, it would only be fair to assume there will soon be a new boss behind the bench in Buffalo if things continue as they are now.
The Sabres’ next game is scheduled for Thursday night at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently rank third in the MassMutual East Division with a 15-9-1 record. The two teams will play each other again Saturday night before Buffalo invites the Washington Capitals (ranked second in the East) into KeyBank Center. Needless to say, the uphill battle will only continue for the struggling Sabres, especially if Krueger continues his stubborn ways and doesn’t try to find some solutions to the team’s woes.
With 56 goals for and 80 against, Buffalo’s minus-24 goal differential is third-worst in the league, only behind the Senators (minus-38) and Detroit Red Wings (minus-34). Looking at the Sabres’ roster, which includes the likes of Jack Eichel, Taylor Hall, Rasmus Dahlin, Sam Reinhart, Skinner and more, the Senators and Red Wings should not be in their company. Does Krueger have what it takes to turn this team around? It seems time is running out for him, so if he wants any hope of keeping his job, he’ll need to prove himself to Adams now, before it’s too late. Riding an eight-game losing streak, there is little room left for error.
Tom Pepper is an NHL/Seattle Kraken columnist at The Hockey Writers. He joined THW in June 2020 and has been writing about the Kraken, his favourite NHL team, since June 2021. In addition, he hosts the THW What’s Kraken show on iHeartRadio, YouTube and more. Outside of THW, he studies at the Ryerson School of Journalism and covers U Sports hockey at the Eyeopener student newspaper. Follow him on Twitter at @TomPepper.