Overreactions, Edition 52: Extend Drew Stafford immediately

A win is a win, but a win like that… huge.

After a far from insipiring effort through 38 minutes on Tuesday night, all it took was a sweet backhand pass from Mike Weber to pull the Sabres heads straight out of their ass. That Thomas Vanek goal with 1:50 remaining in the 2nd pulled Buffalo back within one and set the stage for what may be a huge “swing game” for the Sabres.

Buffalo scored five consecutive goals in the final period to steal a 7-4 win over the Lightning in Tampa. Jordan Leopold scored a controversial goal to tie it, Tim Connolly scored the go ahead goal and the hot-as-a-firecracker duo of Thomas Vanek and Drew Stafford added the insurance to pull the Sabres within four points of the final playoff spot with games in hand.

Drew Stafford was the star of the night, scoring his third hat trick of the season. Stafford, on the final year of his current contract, is set to be a restricted free agent on July 1. He’s exploded of late, now sitting with 20 goals through only 34 games this season. The patience with development may have paid off, but now it’ll be Drew that will have to be paid off this summer.

But let’s worry about the playoffs first, alright?

  • Sure the Sabres got the win, that’s great and all, but again, Ryan Miller wasn’t exactly spectacular. Miller is 25th in the NHL in save percentage (.913) and 27th in goals against (2.70)… far from the Vezina calibre season we saw last year. It’s a big reason why the Sabres are fighting for a playoff spot instead of fighting for the division title.
  • Tyler Ennis, somewhat quietly adds another two assists. He got stopped on a breakaway in the 2nd period, but the kid’s been finding the scoresheet quite consistently since the Sabres turned things around. Very nice to see.
  • Lindy Ruff is going to have to find a solution at center that does not include Jochen Hecht. He’s winning 42% of his draws, and his horrible work on the dot on Tampa’s third goal was evident. Imagine how effective Buffalo’s top line could be if they could actually get the puck more often instead of giving up possession.
  • Mike Weber got burned horribly on the first Lightning goal, but he rebounded and finished strong, collecting two assists. Guy has been a rock.
  • There was a lot of chatter on Twitter about how Tim Connolly was at fault for the first Tampa goal, but he was clearly not the problem. Mike Weber has to close off that shot, and Ryan Miller’s gotta stop that. Inexcusable all around.
  • It was a very worrisome start, especially with Buffalo’s last trip to Florida in mind. They looked flat and uninspired on that southern swing in December, and until the third period, looked just the same. They have to carry the energy they finished with into Sunrise on Thursday.

Carolina lost to New Jersey in overtime. Florida fell to St. Louis.

Sabres now just four points out of 8th with two games in hand.

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Posted on February 9, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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