They’ve been performing at levels that can be described somewhere between “garbage” and “R. Kelly’s Doo Doo Butter” since they had their hallmark-at-the-time win over their opponent on the night, the Boston Bruins. And Boston is quite good, despite a record against the Sabres that says otherwise.
But there go the Sabres, walking away with a 4-2 victory against the team with the second best record in the conference.
Drew Stafford gave Buffalo an early lead with his first goal of the season. That lead would disappear as Boston climbed out to a 2-1 advantage mere minutes into the second period. But thanks to some fantastic goaltending, they never extended it. Ryan Miller was sensational when he had to be, keeping the Sabres in it when they probably shouldn’t have been. He made 30 saves and got the help from the posts as well to keep Boston from pulling away.
“He’s the backbone of this team,” said Stafford. “It’s up to us to put the puck in the net and win some games for him.”
Buffalo would steal the game in the third period with goals from Tyler Myers, Christian Ehrhoff and Cody Hodgson. Boston registered just three shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
“As much as they outplayed us in the first couple periods, we came out and played our game and turned the game around,” said Ehrhoff.
- Congrats to Boston’s Dougie Hamilton on his first NHL goal. Wish the Sabres would’ve shown some respect and announced that with the goal like they would if it was a Buffalo rookie. It’s a milestone achievement, it’d be a nice acknowledgement. The kid played junior hockey in what you consider your market, people would’ve appreciated it.
- Steve Ott ended up with 11 hits, the most since Paul Gaustad had 10 in the Winter Classic over five years ago. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see that number that high. He was definitely throwing the body around, but that’s crazy. Boston’s Milan Lucic had a physical game and he finished with 5. Read the rest of this entry
As soon as the schedule came out, you looked for it. You looked for the opener, and it was home. Then you looked to see when the first game against Boston was.
Tonight, the demons await.
Ever since Milan Lucic brazenly ran over Ryan Miller in TD Garden, the cloud hanging over the franchise still has yet to dissipate. It’s not just they haven’t won there since that 6-2 loss, including two late season losses by scores of 3-1 and 4-3 that surely could’ve improved the Sabres’ playoff chances. It’s not just that they’re in the midst of a four game losing skid in a shortened season right now.
It’s that this franchise had all their faults exposed in one night and have yet to prove that they’re past it.
That game showed a lack of strength amongst the Sabres, not only to stand up for each other, but to avoid being rattled by it. Ryan Miller wasn’t the same for months. The skid the team went on was a major factor towards another year outside the top eight in the East.
And most notably, the changes to the roster since have all been with that game in mind.
It wasn’t long until they decided it was time for alleged-Lucic-in-waiting prospect Zack Kassian to fill that role in the NHL. They brought him up and saw what few had been trying to point out all along, that he wasn’t that guy. And then Marcus Foligno came up and filled the role better, so Kassian was dealt while his stock was still high.
And they traded Paul Gaustad, who was supposed to be the leader on the ice that night, but stood by idly by. He was gone at the deadline. It was clear that whatever toughness the Sabres thought they had, wasn’t enough. Or at least wasn’t the kind they needed.
It continued over the summer, with Steve Ott being acquired for talented center Derek Roy, and the “enforcer” John Scott being signed as a UFA.
There was no skirting around what this was supposed to be. This was supposed to make the team a group that didn’t allow things like the Lucic hit from ever happening.
So far, that hasn’t worked out well. Read the rest of this entry
Left for dead not long ago, the Sabres won’t go away. Somehow, they’re getting themselves back into the playoff picture, and the wins keep finding their way to Buffalo.
Facing the defending Cup champs and Northeast Division leading Boston Bruins at First Niagara Center on Friday night, both teams played well enough not to lose. Since the game has to be decided eventually, the shootout handed the Sabres two points and a 2-1 victory.
Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy scored in the shootout, and Ryan Miller only allowed one goal after stopping 35 of 36 shots in the game.
Andrej Sekera gave the Sabres their only lead of the night with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Boston came out gunning in the third, outshooting the Sabres 15-5 and tying the game on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.
“I think we got on our heels a little bit in the third,” said Lindy Ruff after the game.
Buffalo held on, and even killed a late Thomas Vanek penalty that ran into overtime without surrendering the deciding goal.
The Sabres now move to 27-27-7 on the season, good enough for 11th in the Eastern Conference and just five points behind 8th place Florida.
The Panthers sit at 66 points, one back of Southeast Division leader Winnipeg with four games in hand. For all intents and purposes, Buffalo is chasing the Jets, who at 63 games played, hold a tenuous spot in the playoff picture.
- Having played three incredibly intense games so far this season, these teams played one absolute stinker tonight. Animosity was limited. Each team doled out only 20 hits through 65 minutes of action. Very few scrums. It was an incredibly lackluster game to watch considering the previous efforts.
- Ryan Miller has been the backbone of the Sabres’ resurgence. In his last 13 outings, he’s allowed more than two goals just four times. He is 8-2-2 in that stretch. His save percentage is up to .910 on the season.
- Good for Andrej Sekera to get rewarded for his great play with a goal. It was a nice play by Ennis to set it up, and Sekera filled in a open lane to perfection. Guy has been a rock lately, even in limited ice time.
- Liked Corey Tropp getting the recall, and even with taking two penalties, he brought a good game. The kid plays with energy, physicality, and he actually has hands. I’m ready to put him on the fourth line next year. Read the rest of this entry
In place of a traditional “Overreactions” post, which would be extremely tardy, this is 3MI Roadtrip Recap. A mix of what the postgame blogs usually look like and a look into the trip. Hope you like it. If you don’t, feel free to move to the Congo.)
Not often that you get opportunities to see your team play twice in one day. Well, sort of.
Couple weeks ago a buddy of mine alerted me that the Rochester Americans were playing a weekday morning game in Toronto. He suggested we go for the 11am start. Oh, and the Sabres were hosting the Bruins the same night. What are the odds? Luckily, getting a day off work was feasible, and it worked out great. Easy drive Sabres game didn’t start until 7:30. Plenty of time.
So we hit the road early and headed up the QEW to Toronto to see the Sabres’ minor-league affiliate play the Leafs affiliate to start one hell of a day.
Rochester Americans @ Toronto Marlies
Viewed at: Ricoh Coliseum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Amerks have had their struggles with injuries. With Joe Finley out with a lower body injury, facing a Toronto team they’ve had tough games against this season, things didn’t get much better.
Getting an early start in front of thousands of school kids, the Rochester Americans lost 4-3 to the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.
Rookie Zack Kassian scored twice for Rochester, who now sits 9th in the AHL’s Western Conference.
Max Legault scored the other goal for the Amerks. David Leggio made 21 saves in the loss.
Rochester struggled offensively for much of the game, generating just ten shots through two periods. Kassian’s second goal came with under four seconds left.
- Kassian looked like the Kassian we know. Wasn’t throwing his weight around, but strong physically and good around the net. He’s not going to be the player everyone wants him to be. He’ll be good though.
- Made an effort to watch Dennis Persson as much as I could. Seems like he’s slowly becoming a bit steadier. His selection was always assumed to be under the intention that he’d grow into a Henrik Tallinder-type, and I can see it. Tallinder took his sweet time developing. Persson is progressing slowly as well. Not ready to say “bust” yet. He was -2 on Wednesday.
- If you’re into roadtrips, I highly recommend heading up to Ricoh for a game. Beautiful little AHL arena. Very intimate environment.
- Travis Turnbull is a guy that can be a mainstay on the Amerks for a few years. A joy to watch. Plays with a lot of intensity and spunk. Had a nice scrap with Toronto’s Kelsey Wilson. Read the rest of this entry
On Wednesday night, the Buffalo Sabres got one point, but still walked away with somewhat of a victory.
With the hockey world watching to see how the Sabres would respond in their first matchup with the Boston Bruins after the Milan Lucic hit on the still-sidelined Ryan Miller, the team succeeded in showing their mettle, albeit losing in a shootout by a score of 4-3.
Paul Gaustad got the business out of the way early, challenging Lucic in an early scrap, despite it happening 11 days after many argue it should have. Buffalo used the energy to jump out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek.
“It was an unfortunate incident in Boston, and I give credit to Milan for fighting,” Gaustad said. “It’s something where guys don’t have to, and he did. I wanted to step up after I thought I could have done more in the (earlier) Boston game.”
Boston climbed back within one early in the second, only to be answered by T.J. Brennan’s first NHL goal in his first NHL game. The Bruins continued to press, and tied the game at three early in the third on a powerplay goal by Zdeno Chara.
It went to a shootout, where Tim Thomas stopped all five Sabres shooters and Benoit Pouliot ended it after Jhonas Enroth had stopped the four previous Bruins to shoot.
Enroth finished with 36 saves on the night.
Sure, they didn’t win the game, but arguably, they won some respect.
- A very nice debut for T.J. Brennan. He didn’t get a regular shift early on, as Lindy surely wanted to ease him into such an intense atmosphere. He converted the chance he got, and played a very simple game. A great step forward for a kid who is likely gonna stick around a while.
- By the way, kudos to the game presentation for stepping up and doing a new intro. The environment was much better, and the crowd responded. Unfortunately, they still don’t have it quite right, as the heavy start faded after the first period and the crowd was pretty lifeless in the second and thirds. The music is so crucial, and you can tell what an effect playing more appropriate music. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t have to beat people over the head with “go run through that brick wall” music the whole night.
- Not having Brad Boyes available for the shootout may have been the difference. Jhonas Enroth made the saves he needed to, but the skaters need to score. Unfortunate that they failed to take advantage of the situation.
- I’ve never seen a player jump into hits more than Brad Marchand did Wednesday night. Even when trying to lay out Nathan Gerbe, who’s even smaller than he is, Marchand feels the need to leave his feet. Total scumbag. Read the rest of this entry
As the Buffalo News reports, Miller is out for the forseeable future with a concussion.
The illegal hit by Boston’s Milan Lucic that caused the injury will be reviewed by the league, as Lucic has a hearing scheduled with Brendan Shanahan at 1 pm on Monday afternoon.
“If this hit and other types of hits like this are not suspended, we are opening up the possibility of losing goaltenders to injury. And not just injury, but concussion,” Regier said. “… When I look at the position of goaltending, in a lot of ways it’s not unlike quarterback in football. I feel very strongly the protection has to be provided and players committing these types of action should be punished.”
The Sabres have recalled Drew MacIntyre from Rochester to backup Jhonas Enroth. MacIntyre is 3-4-1 on the season with the Amerks, and he will surely look to take advantage of the opportunity.
As the goaltending debate has raged over the last few weeks, unfortunately we’re going to get an extended look at Enroth. The undefeated rookie will start against Montreal on Monday night, and will be the horse for the time being. With four games in the next six days, it’s entirely possible MacIntyre may get a start Friday night in Carolina.
The story now will be how Enroth responds. The young Swede who is 12-0-1 in his last 13 decisions will get another chance to be the guy. His stellar play at the end of last season earned Buffalo a playoff spot, and has done nothing but perform at the highest level this season. Another extended stretch of good play with Miller on the sidelines may start pushing the team to reevaluate the future plans the team has in goal.
The Sabres as a group were unhappy with the way they responded to the hit Saturday night, so it’s a good bet that they’re going to come out and play with passion in Montreal. A loss on the heels of the massacre in Boston could be devastating to the team’s self-confidence.
Faceoff is at 7:00 Monday night.
Hard to imagine an effort this demoralizing can be classified in that manner.
After taking a 1-0 lead early in the first, Buffalo got run over by Boston… literally. A “gutless” first period hit on Ryan Miller by Boston’s Milan Lucic set the tone as the Bruins scored the next six en route to handing the Sabres a 6-2 loss.
Miller eventually left the game at the end of the second period after allowing three goals and being bowled over twice by Bruins players. Jhonas Enroth finished the third, allowing three goals in a game that was decided before he even stepped in.
“I thought it was a major,” Ruff said. “I thought if it was open season on goalies then let’s get at it.”
The story for Boston was the offensive explosion, but the story for Buffalo was the emotional implosion. The complete lack of response to the Lucic hit on Miller.
The postgame reaction from the players revealed nothing but frustration over the hit and the aftermath.
“I’m not really going to get into that,” Miller said in TD Garden. “I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of shit I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It’s unbelievable. Everyone in this city see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of shit.”
Paul Gaustad wasn’t happy with the reaction.
“I can do more. I’m embarrassed that we didn’t respond the way we should have. It falls on myself. I look at myself first, and I wasn’t good enough.
“We didn’t push back. There’s no reason to be scared. We had to go after it, and we didn’t.”
When asked about Gaustad’s comments, Ruff responded with possibly the quote of the night.
“Paul was on the ice.”
Thomas Vanek and Marc-Andre Gragnani scored for Buffalo.
- Tyler Myers’ pathetic play of late needs to be addressed. Lindy seemed to indicate after the game that he was going to let Myers play through it, but that’s not working. Myers was -3 again, and looked absolutely awful throughout. Somehow, he remains on the top powerplay unit and can’t play his way out of the lineup. An outbreak is becoming an epidemic. He’s singlehandedly ruined Andrej Sekera’s strong start to the season.
- Before the whole mess from the Lucic hit, the Sabres took a quick lead on the road on a goal. Thomas Vanek from Jason Pominville. The guys keep producing. Both have 20 points through 16 games. That’s tied for fourth in the league, Pominville is fourth in assists. and Vanek is tied for second in goals. Read the rest of this entry
Tonight, the 2011 edition of the Stanley Cup playoffs begin their conclusion as the Vancouver Canucks host the Boston Bruins in Game 1.
Usually, even after your favorite team is eliminated, you can pick one team and pull for them for your own personal enjoyment. This season? Trying to pick between the two teams is like picking between cancer and hepatitis.
First, we have Boston.
Boston, the beleaguered, tortured fanbase, whose city has gone an agonizing stretch of having the Red Sox (two), Patriots (three) and Celtics (one) win championships in the last decade. The fans, who are as accomodating and friendly as a rectal probe, deserve to see a winner, right?
Come on Sabres fan, would anything please us more than to see Zdeno Chara, our old friend, accept the Stanley Cup and pass it off to the beloved Mark Recchi?
Yeah, to hell with that.
Listen, I still have a soft spot for Daniel Paille, who had some good moments here in Buffalo before he got squeezed off the roster. I like Tim Thomas, who by all accounts is a great guy and one hell of a model American. But the rest of the Bruins can eat a fat one. Especially you, Milan Lucic.
That leaves us Vancouver, who can become the first Canadian team to hoist the Cup since Montreal in 1993. If they win, good for them. If they don’t, good for America. For being “their sport”, it’s quite hysterical that no city north of the borders has claimed a championship in 17 years.
Is it so wrong to hope that it continues for another year?
They can’t all be pretty. But if it’s a win, it’ll do.
No one can say the Buffalo Sabres dazzled on Thursday night, but they managed to find a way to come out on top, earning a 4-3 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins.
Brad Boyes tapped home the winner in the extra period, as Nathan Gerbe grabbed his own rebound and sent it past Boston’s Tim Thomas to his teammate. The Sabres also got goals from Tyler Ennis, Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly, but despite their obvious offensive skill, they were gritty goals. With scrambles in the crease, all of them trickled over the goal line.
“Physically, we know they are good,” Gerbe said. “They are a top team and they have a lot of good players so we had to play them tough.”
Ryan Miller made 26 saves, and for the most part wasn’t exactly stellar but was good enough to get the win. He was beat by a shot from Rich Peverly in overtime, but was saved by the goal post.
- Props to the officials tonight for being willing to make calls when necessary and not let things go. Yes, they made some mistakes (Marchand’s triple axle after running into Myers included), but for the most part, they called what was warranted. The Bruins may feel the referees were after them, but if you’re gonna play cheap, you deserve the calls. Read the rest of this entry