With their flickering playoff hopes in the balance, and the 8th place New York Rangers coming into First Niagara Center, there was little doubt. Buffalo gave up six straight goals en route to a hope-extinguishing 8-4 loss.
“It’s unexplainable, unexcusable,” said Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. “That’s just the way our season went. Just like it did tonight.”
The Sabres held the Rangers in check for the first 18:42 of the opening period, but a Carl Hagelin goal opened the floodgates. Brad Richards would score 57 seconds later, and Ryan Miller would have one of the worst fuck-ups of his career, handing the puck to Ryane Clowe who made it 3-0 with less than four seconds left in the period.
“That’s one of the worst plays I’ve made while I’ve been here,” said Miller. “Just shitty timing.”
New York scored early in the second, with Anton Stralman and Brad Richards extending the lead, as the Rangers opened up a 5-0 lead in a span of 2:58 of play. Rick Nash made it 6-0 before Buffalo finally found the board.
Cody Hodgson, Nathan Gerbe, Drew Stafford and Mark Pysyk, with the first of his NHL career, scored for the Sabres, who are now officially relegated to watching the postseason.
Miller was pulled after the fourth Rangers goal, giving up four goals on 14 shots. Jhonas Enroth didn’t fare much better, stopping 11 shots and allowing four goals as well. Ryan Callahan also scored for New York, and Brad Richards finished the hat trick midway through the third period.
Thanks to the shitshow in Boston this week, the NHL postponed what would’ve been a trip to Pittsburgh to play the Pens tomorrow. Now, the Sabres are off until Monday. Time to let it sink in.
- Glad to see the media piling on game presentation for not referencing the fact the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings was caught. Could’ve been an emotional moment, huge missed opportunity. The crowd has been awful all season, and in a do-or-die game, they were even worse tonight. Everyone in that department deserves a pink slip based on performance alone. Letting this shit continue is just accepting below-average results.
- John Scott played 11:00 tonight. The man has not scored a goal since November of 2009. What did I just say about accepting below-average results again?
- Ron Rolston got fiery in his postgame press conference when an unnamed Buffalo News reporter who may or may not drive a white van offered some weak questions. Few media in the room desired to break it up. Can only speak for myself, but it was enjoyable. Read the rest of this entry
With a split crowd thanks to legions of visiting fans in First Niagara Center, there was no home ice advantage, and the home team got crushed by the Montreal Canadiens in a 5-1 loss.
“That was an embarrassing loss,” said Sabres forward Cody Hodgson. “They played a lot better than we did and we, collectively as a group, didn’t match it.”
Buffalo got outplayed for the duration of the game, getting outshot 42-15, and after Rene Bourque opened the scoring 6:43 into the opening period, the outcome was never in doubt. Montreal would take a 2-0 lead on an Alex Galchenyuk goal moments later, and added two more in the second period.
Ryan Miller ended up getting pulled after 40 minutes, surrendering four goals on 32 shots. Jhonas Enroth would stop 9 of 10 he faced in the third.
Rookie Brian Flynn scored the only goal for Buffalo, his fifth of the season, while the team was shorthanded in the third. Montreal’s star defenseman P.K. Subban added a powerplay goal late to extend the final margin.
The Canadiens clinched a playoff berth with the win, while the Sabres are for all intents and purposes dunzo. The only race they’re in now is to the bottom.
- The Sabres got assessed a bench minor for abuse of officials near the end of the game. I don’t know if anyone asked what happened, but I at least appreciate the passion. That’s something.
- Steve Ott can’t get praised enough for what he does. He does everything he can to win. He’s got the right attitude and mindset, and if you look at the numbers, he does back it up. Seeing him in the locker room, full equipment still on, bruised and bloodied… as a fan, you can’t ask for more.
- As much as the team on the ice needs fixing, they got enough work to do off ice as well. Such a miserable place to see a game.
- Really taking a liking to Brian Flynn, which I’ve stated in here before, but I’ll reiterate it whenever I feel the need. I could handle a Flynn-Porter-somebody fourth line next year. He’s gonna need some time to develop, but the tools are there. Read the rest of this entry
The day started with a blueliner leaving the building, and it ended with the defense nowhere to be found.
In another episode of “This Team Is Not Good This Year,” the Buffalo Sabres blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 en route to a 4-3 shootout loss to a Washington team they never trailed for a minute of the 65 played on the night.
Buffalo jumped out to an early lead on Christian Ehrhoff’s fourth of the season just three minutes into the game. Ville Leino would register his first of the season just 1:19 into the second to stretch the margin to two, before Washington star Alexander Ovechkin cut it in half just over a minute later.
Leino would add another midway through the second. And it was all down hill from there, starting with Troy Brouwer’s shorthanded goal early in the third period with American hero John Carlson in the box for the Caps.
“It’s disappointing,” said Leino. “That is a big goal to give up and after that they were fired up and wanted to win the game and that’s just things that shouldn’t happen.”
Mike Green would tie the game in the final minute with the extra attacker, and took the game in the shootout on goals by Matt Hendricks and the aforementioned Ovechkin.
Jhonas Enroth, despite stopping no shots in the shootout, was sensational for much of the 65 minutes before that, stopping 35 shots.
“No excuses for it,” said Ehrhoff. “We’re up 3-1 and put this game away and… we didn’t.”
- Drew Stafford, without being on the scoresheet, played a hell of a game. One of his best efforts in recent memory. Showed a lot of hustle and created some good opportunities. Maybe he knew the scouts were watching, but I had to get him a vote for three stars. He deserved it.
- You guys in game presentation can be done with the drumline anytime. You’re missing the point.
- Enroth has been stringing together some nice starts. While the wins aren’t piling up, it’s usually not due to poor goaltending. With a baker’s dozen of games left in the season, he should be getting a fair share, at least four or five of them. But that’s not considering what might happen by Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry
On the ice, well, that’s why they actually play the games, right?
Jhonas Enroth, starting for the ill Ryan Miller, was sensational on the night, stopping 32 shots to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. It was Enroth’s first win since November 26, 2011.
“I felt very confident and I had control of every shot,” said Enroth. “I didn’t give up any bad rebounds and stuff like that, so it was pretty much a perfect game for me.”
Buffalo got two goals from Marcus Foligno and the game winner from, surprise, Thomas Vanek.
Even after surrendering the first goal, yet another shorthanded marker scored by Rangers forward and fine American Derek Stepan, Buffalo kept their composure for the most part. Foligno scored moments later to tie the game, and Vanek added what would be the winner with just over seven minutes remaining in the second.
Foligno tallied the insurance marker with about eight minutes to go in the third, banging in a rebound in front of the net. The Sabres, who rocket up to 27th in the NHL standings with the win, would hold on despite getting outshot 18-3 in the final 20 minutes.
Hey, a win is nice every once in a while.
- Andrej Sekera was fantastic for the Sabres. Great with the puck, made smart and confident plays. Picked up two assists, but those weren’t even his best plays of the night. Overall great game from the Slovak, who played 21:48 of great hockey.
- Brian Flynn and Kevin Porter may be earning themselves spots on the team. It’s obvious the team may be looking to deal at the deadline, and right now, these guys may be locked in for the remainder of the year if they keep this up. Flynn had an assist and Porter is showing more and more dependability. They bring what you need out of your bottom six.
- Really shocked that the officials didn’t try to even out the penalty calls in the third period. New York ended up with just one opportunity, where they obviously didn’t score. Read the rest of this entry
Sure, looking at the standings, Monday night’s game in Winnipeg (a vacation destination listed somewhere between Sarajevo and Chernobyl on the countdown of “Most Desirable Places To Visit”) looked like a big game. The Sabres, just two points behind the 8th place Thrashers-at-heart, could’ve jumped ahead with a regulation win.
Had it not been at the conclusion of a roadtrip that helped resurrect the team’s season, it might’ve been a do-or-die situation. But thanks to wins at Anaheim, San Jose and Vancouver, arguably, they were already playing with house money. Four-for-four wasn’t in the cards. Oh well.
Buffalo surrendered a lead for the first time in more than two weeks and rarely looked threatening in a 3-1 loss to the team they renamed the Jets.
Ryan Miller, who was sublime for the first three games of the trip, looked solid, but his 28 saves on 31 shots was not enough to steal any points.
Corey Tropp scored for Buffalo.
The Sabres looked lifeless for most of the game, showing signs of wear after three hard-fought wins before getting sent to play in poor conditions against a rested team.
Buffalo now sits four points out of a playoff spot, while still maintaining a game in hand. Winnipeg, clearly a better team in their AHL-sized home rink, plays just six games there for the remainder of the season. They have the 25th best road record in the NHL. Needless to say, the 8th spot is there for the taking.
- Pretty shocked Lindy Ruff didn’t juggle lines a bit to find something other than the fourth line that might’ve shown something. The top line of Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville looked atrocious. They were each -2 and played under 17 minutes. Your top line is supposed to step up. They didn’t.
- Seriously, when you’re down two in the final minutes and Matt Ellis is on the ice, your team has problems. Read the rest of this entry
It’s too bad that the Buffalo Sabres came into Philadelphia with playoff hopes nearing non-existent. It’s too bad that after heading to the locker rooms at the first intermission with a 2-0 lead, it didn’t last more than a few minutes into the second period. It’s too bad that Ryan Miller’s rare night off lasted just under 27 minutes.
Blowing a lead is bad, but that’s not what happened here. Surrendering a lead and walking into a woodchipper is more like it.
Early goals by Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek, the only two players the team has been able to rely on all season, gave Buffalo an early lead en route to a 7-2 loss to the Flyers.
“This time of year, it’s unacceptable to get a lead like that and blow it,” Pominville said. “In the first, we had control, we generated chances and didn’t give up much. Then the momentum changed sides. That’s when you have to lock in and play better.”
Philadelphia climbed one back just 54 seconds into the second on a Max Talbot goal. Wayne Simmonds scored identical powerplay goals at 3:32 and 6:49 to cancel the lead and chase Jhonas Enroth. The Sabres didn’t get a boost from Ryan Miller, and the Flyers ran away with it.
Enroth stopped 15 of 18 shots in 26:49. Ryan Miller stopped 13 of 17 in relief.
14th place Buffalo now returns home to face Montreal Friday night at First Niagara Center.
- Ryan Miller had been long overdue for a night off. Jhonas Enroth wasn’t especially horrible, but the move was made to try to wake up the team, and it did nothing except ruin Miller’s time for rest. Now he’s probably going to go back in and start tomorrow night against Montreal. Enroth is gonna need more starts. They need to know what they have in him moving forward.
- I tweeted during the game that Brad Boyes should be playing 18 minutes a night until he’s dealt. He played 16:29. Give him a proper audition now that they’re headed nowhere.
- Can’t be said enough how well Jason Pominville has owned that captaincy. Team MVP. Read the rest of this entry
Hot off the presses is the big-budget production known as the fourth edition of “The Instigator Podcast” featuring Chris Ostrander of Two In the Box and myself.
In this episode, we talk splitting the weekend, leaving games early, “Hockey IQ” vs. “Sabres IQ”, healthy changes everything (featuring the Incredible Lance Diamond), some fan questions and play some “Plus/Minus” again.
Alright, it’s not even worth trying at this point.
In a game where few objective fans could convince themselves that the end result would be in doubt, it proved to be another nail in the coffin for the Sabres’ 2011-2012 season. Chicago, battling for the top spot in the West coming in, now sits atop the heap after handing the floundering Sabres a 6-2 defeat.
All-star captain Jason Pominville scored both goals for Buffalo, who have lost ten straight road games.
“We’re not dealing well with adversity,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “Until we learn to win again, you won’t win on the road.
“We’ve got some players that are way away from their game, and we’ve got some guys that I thought were good tonight, but we didn’t have enough of them.”
Pominville’s second goal tied the game at 2-2 minutes into the second period, but the Blackhawks scored four unanswered goals to coast away with two points.
Jhonas Enroth, who has been strong lately despite not finding wins, allowed six goals and stopped 29 of 35 shots. Enroth hasn’t picked up a winning decision since November 26.
The team flies to Winnipeg to face the Thrashers on Thursday night.
- With the need for some roster changes obvious, it’s a common topic of discussion to consider what players should be considered untouchable. Obviously, Thomas Vanek is the top name on the list. Many would throw in Tyler Myers as well. (I wouldn’t.) But Jason Pominville has been everything we could’ve hoped for when he was given the “C”. He’s having a phenomonal year, contributes in all areas. He’s part of the solution, not part of the problem.
- The NBC Sports crew calling the game were quite critical of the Sabres throughout the broadcast. Some on twitter seemed taken aback by it. It’s nice to get an objective opinion once in a while, isn’t it?
- Jochen Hecht’s pass to Pominville on the opening goal was absolutely sublime. Read the rest of this entry
Things didn’t look too promising coming in to Monday’s game at Joe Louis Arena.
Riding an eight-game losing streak on the road, Buffalo was about to run into a buzzsaw. Detroit was ready to extend their home winning streak to a franchise record 15. The numbers indicated it could be trouble for the Sabres.
While they held them off the board for just over five minutes, there wasn’t much reason to think the Sabres had any chance to get out of there with points, and they dropped a 5-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway.
“We’ve got to wake up,” Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said.
Ryan Miller got chased after allowing five goals on 14 shots in the first 24:32 of action. He expressed his frustration after the game, and, just like many of us have been saying, there’s no magical cure in his eyes.
“If you want to just destroy a team and go out and be reckless and do something, yeah. Then there’s going to be new guys in here. But other than that, this locker room is going to be pretty much the same, if not completely the same and we gotta find it from in here [points to chest]. You can’t sit and wait for somebody else to fucking do it.”
The nine game losing streak shows no signs of stopping, with the team unable to put together a good road game and visits to Chicago, Winnipeg and St. Louis, all arenas where the home team has dominated, awaiting them.
This is what a season slipping away looks like.
- Lindy Ruff decided to mix up the defense pairings and forward lines after seeing the team fail to beat the last place Islanders on Saturday. With Andrej Sekera returning in place of Robyn Regehr and T.J. Brennan replacing Joe Finley, there wasn’t going to be much continuity on the blueline anyways. It turned out to be a disaster. Jordan Leopold and Mike Weber looked lost playing together, both being on the ice for four of the five Detroit goals.
- One of the changes Ruff made was putting Derek Roy between Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. Defensively not withstanding, that line looked alright in the offensive zone, especially Roy, who I thought looked good in the attacking zone. The trio had 10 of the Sabres’ 27 shots on Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.
- Oddly enough, Marc-Andre Gragnani was even on the night. He’s been one of the team’s shakiest defenseman. Somehow his plus-minus doesn’t reflect that. Read the rest of this entry
Facing the 15th-best team in the Eastern Conference should fall into that category. Saturday night’s game in New York didn’t fall into the “win” category, though.
Despite another phenomenal performance from rookie Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo couldn’t get the goal support or the defense it needed, dropping a 4-2 defeat to the last place Islanders.
“When you don’t execute exits out of your zone, you have a hard time generating much at the other end,” Ruff said. “On the bright side, I did think Jhonas was terrific.”
Enroth’s 36 saves were in most instances timely and crucial to keeping the game close. The Sabres got goals from Patrick Kaleta and Derek Roy, but a late goal by New York’s Michael Grabner was the deciding marker.
Buffalo got a chance to tie the game, as Thomas Vanek got a penalty shot with just 1:24 left, but the team’s leading scorer rang a shot off the post behind Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov. New York added an empty netter with 30 seconds remaining to seal it.
Next up for the Sabres is a trip to Detroit, where they face the Red Wings on Monday night, winners of 14 straight of Joe Louis Arena. Oh boy.
- Robyn Regehr left with an upper body injury and was deemed as out for the coming games by Lindy Ruff. With Andrej Sekera ready to come back, it won’t necessitate a call-up, but the defense has struggled mightily. Mike Weber has been alright, but right now he’s getting #4 minutes. Marc-Andre Gragnani and Joe Finley looked like a dumpster fire in their own zone for much of the night. Sabres need to get Christian Ehrhoff back badly.
- Derek Roy came through with a big goal to tie the game right after the Isles made it 2-1. The second line finally chipped one in. Oddly enough, it was on a night where the top line wasn’t making an impact on the scoresheet.
- The lack of production from the first line can be correlated with Thomas Vanek getting drilled in the side of the head by a Jochen Hecht shot. Vanek has been taking a beating lately. They can’t afford to lose him. If he’s done, they’re done. Read the rest of this entry