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Buffalo Sabres Game 18 Recap: Ullmark, Moulson, and Ristolainen November 18, 2015

Posted by tomflesher in Economics, Hockey, Sports.
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The Sabres dropped a game to Western Conference leaders the Dallas Stars on November 17th. Going into the final minutes, the Sabres were down 2-1, but after pulling goaltender Linus Ullmark they allowed an empty-net goal at 18:33. Dallas’ Alex Goligoski had two points for the Stars. Jack Eichel, Tyler Ennis, and Ryan O’Reilly each had four shots for the Sabres, with O’Reilly scoring the only goal for Buffalo.

Matt Moulson in 2013. Photo: Robert Kowal

Matt Moulson in 2013. Photo: Robert Kowal

Winger Matt Moulson led the team in Corsi REL% last night with 25.4. That is, 25.4% more shots are made by the Sabres than by their opponents in a hypothetical game in which Moulson plays all 60 minutes than in a hypothetical Moulson-free game. Moulson played 17:39 last night and took no shots himself, but he has a positive Corsi REL% every season since joining the Islanders in 2009. He was traded from New York to Buffalo after playing 11 games in 2013 with a -2.1, but bounced back in Buffalo for a 3.5 Corsi REL%. He had a cup of coffee in Minnesota with a 4.1 Corsi REL% in 20 games, finishing with a 2.3 on the season. Moulson came back to Buffalo thereafter.

Defender Rasmus Ristolainen led the team in shifts (30) and came in at 22:04 on the ice, five seconds behind leader Tyler Ennis. Ristolainen is getting a lot of ice time as a development move, and it’s starting to pay off – he’s taken 47 shots in 437 minutes over 18 games, when in 2013-14 he took a total of 52 in 650 minutes and 34 games. Ristolainen’s focus on playing scoring defense doesn’t appear to be paying off, though – even as he’s taking more shots, it appears from the statistics that he’s playing weaker defense. He’s taking more but allowing more, as well; although his Corsi For% is rising, it’s still weak (43.9%), and more shots are allowed to the defense while he’s on ice than while he’s off ice (reflected in his -9.0 Corsi REL%).

Linus Ullmark's minion-themed mask

Linus Ullmark’s minion-themed mask

Linus Ullmark performed well, allowing 2 goals on 28 shots; the Sabres scored once on 26. Ullmark is 4-3, including a difficult November 5 loss to the Lightning. For a rookie, Ullmark’s 2.39 goals against average is solid – it’s better than Chad Johnson‘s 2.67, and Ullmark has a positive goals saved above average; it remains to be seen whether he’ll maintain his relatively high level of performance. So far, that single period against the Lightning seems to be a deviation. Johnson’s been much more variant. From a development perspective, I like seeing Linus start.

Both Buffalo and Dallas are idle tonight. The Sabres’ next game will be on the 19th at St. Louis.

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