MSG hockey analyst Steve Valiquette took several shots at the Sabres after Buffalo fell to the Rangers in a Tuesday night snoozefest.
“I think the Buffalo players should be wearing ski masks on the 15th and 30th of every month,” the former Rangers netminder said in reference to NHL paydays, “because there’s no way you can have that star power and then not have any pushback. I mean, they look like they’ve quit on their season.”
The Sabres, who also play their games on the MSG network, actually had more chances than the Rangers in the 3-2 loss, but mustered only five shots to New York’s three while down a goal in the third period.
“The Rangers packed it in in the third period but did Buffalo even make an effort to [get to high-scoring areas]? I think they’re very easy to play against,” Valiquette said. “I think that’s a dreadful hockey team. They should be embarrassed.”
It was the fourth straight loss for a Buffalo team that has often looked lackadaisical. At 6-11-3, the Sabres are last in the East division and well on their way to missing the playoffs for the 10th straight season.
Buffalo entered the pandemic-shortened 56-game season with reason for optimism after signing Taylor Hall, the 2018 league MVP, to a one-year, $8 million contract, adding him to a talented core of forwards.
But Hall has scored just one goal, while captain and face of the franchise Jack Eichel and his $10 million annual salary has two goals. Jeff Skinner, who is being paid $9 million, hasn’t scored at all and has been benched a couple times this season for poor play. The Sabres are second-to-last in goals per game with 2.20.
The disappointment has led to rumblings that the Sabres could trade the 24-year-old Eichel — possibly to the center-needy 8-9-3 Rangers — which could set the lowly franchise back even further.
“It’s sad to see because Buffalo is one of my favorite cities,” said Valiquette, who grew up in nearby Ontario, Canada. “Unbelievable people there, hard-working people. They must have a hard time watching that team play hockey.”