It was shaping up to be an exciting night at the Tank on Saturday as there was a buzz about the Sabres coming to town for the first time since the Reagan administration. I was very impressed (change "impressed" to "annoyed" at the second intermission) with the number of Sabres fans in attendance. I'm curious for some insight from anyone reading this, are the Sabres always well represented on the road? Are there just a lot of Buffalo expatriates in San Jose? Did people escape Buffalo for a California vacation to catch the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks?
Notice to Internet Explorer Users
I'll admit that I hadn't seen Buffalo play yet this year, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect without Briere and Drury. Scratch that; I don't think anyone really knows what to expect from this Sabres team (8-1, 1-4, 2-8, 7-1). It's never easy to play a team, home or away, that got blown out in the previous game (unless that team is Phoenix, and you're the team that blew them out).
I got downtown early and grabbed some dinner and took in warm-ups. During Coach's Chalkboard, Ron Wilson talked about how Buffalo plays a wide open style that's different from any team they've faced yet this year. I believe his words went something like: "They're content to just trade chances up and down the ice all night long, whereas we're used to slowing the game down a bit more. We'd be happy to trade chances with them all night, but we're not going to allow that to happen tonight." So for all you RW haters out there, he clearly knows what's going on with his team, because they sure didn't trade chances with the Sabres all night.
I had a dream the night before that the Sharks would fall behind 4-1 and then score 3 in the third and win 5-4 in OT. I got a couple parts of that right. They did fall behind 4-1, and the score in the third period was 3-0, just not on the right side of the board.
I ate my words during the first goal. When Pavelski set up on the left boards and Ozolinsh drifted across the blueline to find an opening for Pavs to swing it around, I started saying to my friend "Now Joe's going to pass it to Ozolinsh, and he'll lob a wrist shot at the goal with no one in front and Miller will catch it no problem." I was cut off by the goal horn somewhere around "wrist shot". When that shot snuck in, I started to think to myself, "Boy, things just aren't going the Sabres way."
Interestingly enough, the Sabres were throwing their weight around early in the first period on the Sharks, who seemed content to take it. Eventually Roenick finally took a run from blueline to blueline and put a solid hit on a Sabres D-man. Another Sabre took exception to it and put his fists into JR's chest about 4 or 5 times, but Roenick didn't bite. Another gripe about the instigator call, if you're going to have it, why not have an "attempt to instigate" call, because that's clearly what was going on until JR refused. This non-fight seemed to be a turning point as the Sharks went into the dressing room lucky to have a 1-0 lead.
Buffalo came out and took a penalty early in the 2nd period when Kotalik got called for Holding-the-Stick. The Sharks didn't get much going on the power play and gave up the old 2nd-period-find-the-guy-coming-out-of-the-box-goal when the Sharks turned the puck over at the end of the power play to Roy who hit Kotalik on the tape who skated in for an easy 2-on-none tap in to tie it up.
Soon after, Ozolinsh was nice enough to give his fluke goal back to the Sabres when he collided with Setoguchi on the PP breakout and left the puck in the zone for Tim Connolly to pick up an easy shortie.
Blah, blah, blah, and the Sabres score 5 more goals to make it 7-1. That's about all I can stomach talking about right now.
I must say that I was impressed with the Sharks fans who started chanting "Brett Hull" as the Sabres fans were soaking up the victory. That one's going to hurt forever.
A couple quick hits about the game:
-Complete lack of physical presence for the Sharks until Thornton got his double-minor at the end of the game. He's obviously not the one who should have to step up and do what he did in a blowout.
-The Sharks seemed to continue playing a 4'x4' box-plus-one defense in the third period as the Sabres lit up the scoreboard. With 5 minutes left in a 5 goal game, why not go out and hit somebody, (Murray and Semenov)?
-Will anyone sign my petition to move the remaining 6 home games for December to the road?
-Come back McLaren! As bad as you've been this year, I'm biting my lip the entire time that Semenov is on the ice.
-Ozolinsh may have had a rough game tonight, but he's had a huge positive impact on this team since he came back, so I'll let it slide.
-I'm also on the "Get Curtis out of the press-box bandwagon", but they were riding a 4-game win streak where they finally had some consistency on their lines, so I was okay with sitting him again. I do expect to see him in the game on Tuesday.
-I don't think anyone will be clamoring for Patzold to get a start anymore.
-Cheechoo went down in the first, and they had to shuffle the lines, which clearly didn't work out.
-I still like the seven-defensemen/eleven-forward line-up. It's huge for Thornton to have four wingers every night so there's not as much pressure for just one to step up and be "THE GUY" like Cheech was 2 years ago.
That's all for now, brush this one off and turn things around this week.
There is an issue with the form blow that will make it appear that nothing happens when you click the post message button below. To see your message, after you click the post message button, refresh this page. Sorry for the troubles, we hope to have it fixed soon.