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Lightning Round: NHL given reduced cross-border quarantine, Sabres keep losing

And referees are covering up their mics now.

Buffalo Sabres v New York Rangers
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 22: Taylor Hall #4 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on March 22, 2021 in New York City.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres have been a swirling tire fire this season. The team many believed to be on their way up has fallen apart, players and coaches alike have COVID-19, and they are now mired in their longest losing streak in franchise history with 16 losses in a row. Yes, longer than the 14-game losing streak during the McEichel year of 2014-15. They have the longest losing streak since the ‘05 lockout, and they’re two losses away from matching the longest losing streak in the 21st century set by the ‘03 Penguins.

I should probably circle back to that coronavirus mention. Sabres head coach and assistant coach Don Granato and Matt Ellis were put into quarantine before last night’s game against the Sabres. GM Kevyn Adams and assistant coach Dan Girardi worked the bench with Rochester Americans head coach Seth Appert joining the team in the second period after driving over from Rochester.

Despite that outbreak, the roster remained intact (whatever that means for the Sabres) and they had a chance to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins after several players on that team tested positive for COVID-19.

But you probably filled in the blanks and came to the conclusion that they still lost — 4-0 in fact — with the game-winning goal scored by yet another create-a-player the Penguins have found.

After the game, Taylor Hall was asked if he would listen to waiving his no-move clause for a trade at the deadline, and he seemed quite enthusiastic about it. Surprise of the century. Reporting earlier in the day from Elliotte Friedman notes that the demand for Hall during his awful season on the Sabres has dropped and the price for him could drop to somewhere around a second round pick. Quite the deal to put it mildly, but the Sabres have no leverage right now (what are they going to do, keep him?) so the price is naturally quite low.

Are these Sabres in a worse state than where they were in 2014? I would argue yes. The roster is such a shambles their top prospects have fallen into some kind of void of despair (Jack Eichel calls it staying at home with an “injury”). Their front office has dealt with so many firings that it’s a very bare-bones staff from management to coaching and development I’m worried a slight breeze could probably paralyze their day-to-day running. There’s something rotten to the core with this team, and I have been fascinated by it.

In other news, the Canadian government has altered restrictions for NHL players to move across the US-Canada border around the Trade Deadline. Quarantine has been reduced to seven days with increased mandatory tests required. This was being pushed by teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs who want to bring in big additions to their roster and don’t want to have them out of the lineup for any extended period of time. I still think annexing Buffalo would’ve been easier to accomplish.

Lightning Links

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost last night to the Dallas Stars in a frustrating performance, ending Andrei Vasilevskiy’s franchise-leading winning streak. [Raw Charge]

“Andrei Vasilevskiy was personally on a twelve-game win streak, a franchise record. He was just two games away from tying the NHL record of 14 games. Unfortunately, the Lightning showed some fatigue from the grueling schedule they’ve been on and could not keep up with the Stars.”

Erik Cernak missed the game along with Ryan McDonagh. Victor Hedman ended up playing 25 minutes in the game, but surprisingly, he wasn’t the highest minutes-eater on the Bolts. That was Mikhail Sergachev who played 26 minutes. Cal Foote and Jan Rutta played 24 and 23 minutes, respectively, with Luke Schenn and Andreas Borgman getting 10 minutes each on the third pair. The Lightning didn’t get a power play in this game, by the way.

In Syracuse Crunch news, Florida Panthers player Noah Juulsen has been sent to the Crunch on a conditioning loan. He’ll likely play for the Crunch in the coming week before going back to Florida. Juulsen is recovering from an injury that has kept him out of their lineup for a month.

The Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL have released two players following a string of racist assaults directed at a Black teammate.

In a game between the Leafs and Senators last night, the referees missed a tripping call on Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds. When Simmonds went over to talk about it, the referee covered his mic. This is the lesson they’ve learned from the Tim Peel, Nashville episode. Cover up the game management/biases better. That’ll do it. And if you follow me on Twitter, you know how I feel about this.