The No Walk Rangers had much to say before game one of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, but very little to say after it. The Sabres won the opening game handily, 5-2, with two goals from Tomas Vanek, one each by Ales Kotalik, Jason Pominville, & Drew Stafford, and another solid performance by Ryan Miller. The Rangers were clearly outplayed in every facet of the game; from goaltending to defense to offense to forechecking to backchecking and all the little things in between, the Sabres had the better of the Rangers. Sean Avery, whose bark is, obviously, MUCH worse than his bite, was, other than two penalties, a total non-factor in the game. Ranger all-star, Jaromir Jagr, who has always been a Sabre killer, pretty much followed suit as, after being robbed by Miller only seconds into the contest, he did next to nothing. The only guy who really showed up for New York was poor Henrik Lundqvist who was more or less hung out to dry by his mates. Especially when the Sabres broke the game open with 3 goals on 4 shots in a span of 4:05, about sixteen or so minutes into the second stanza. Sure he may like to have Kotalik's goal back but he was pretty helpless on the other three that got by him. Without him, the score could have easily been 8-2.
Oh, well. It looks as if the Sabres have put all the skepticism they'd garnered as a result of their "struggle" against the Isles in round one to rest. And they showed the Rangers what it feels like to play, not just a playoff team but, a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. By no means do I expect the Sabres to breeze through this series. In fact, I would be extremely surprised if it goes less than six games. I suspect that the Rangers took this game as a slap in the face and will take the ice friday night for game two with a vengance. But, will THAT even be good enough?