I did full-game recaps in the past, so how about bringing it back out for the playoffs?
Notable Statistics: Box Score
Powerplay: Buffalo 2/6, New York 0/3
Giveaways: Buffalo 7, New York 14
Shots: Buffalo 11-11-13 (35), New York 1-9-11 (21)
1. Rockin' the HSBC pre-game
!!! I have to say, this was probably the most coordinated and the loudest "LET'S GO BUFFALO" cheer I've ever heard at the HSBC over broadcast. I mean, sometimes you can make it out, but this was really in-your-face. Really impressive. And of course the Goo Goo Dolls video got you all emotionally charged for it and started making me miss home! Great kick-off though.
2. The Start set the tone
. The Sabres came out knowing how they were going to do, and with the home crowd behind them, they were flying on their skates. The Islanders seemed like they were going with the approach of, "Well we're new at this and let's see how we should play them." The problem with the reactionary way of playing is that they were playing a VERY fast team, and it was completely obvious that it didn't work. The Islanders didn't catch their breath at all until the 2nd.
3. PK AND PP: WE'RE BACK
. You know how we were all like "Welllll let's see how they handle it." And we were going through a stretch where even PK was falling (and PP has only been average all year), but in the last week or two pre-playoffs, you started seeing the stats improve and maybe a little hope ... well, those little tweaks right before this series completely paid off.
4. O HAY THAR TIMMY
, or Why I Love The "Fourth Line." Why? Since Gaustad stopped centering the 4th line (... then was injured), Mair has been playing switcheroo with players returning from injuries and the entire Amerks team, one at a time. They were the line to get some energy into the team, not really to produce. But now, with Connolly centering, I've immediately seen improvements in Mair's game, picking up assists and doing some great stickwork. I think even if Stafford might not ride through the playoffs with lots of scoring, being on this line will definitely help his game improve in the long run. Also, having Connolly back on the PP was awwwesome.
5. So why DID we get Zubrus
? So we could see a guy, hungry for playoff action, spark it up just in time. Now that the lines are a bit more stabilized, Zubrus has gotten a lot more used to how it's going to run and that was more than apparent last night. He knew exactly where Drury was going to be and that was literally a laser pass. I remember watching and re-watching the video of Zubrus making this breakout play, stickhandling around two defencemen to get on net (he didn't score, though) a few games back. Happened again tonight. With Gaustad out, Zubrus brings a big body he'll throw around (notice he consistently throws checks from game to game) and still an impressive amount of finesse to fit onto this team. I'm lovin' this addition, and great job to Darcy Regier for realizing what an asset he could be, especially during the playoffs.
6. WHAT NEXT, MAN
??? The Islanders will undoubtedly come out on Saturday with a brand new strat for the start of the game. Garth best stated the DP/Dubie debate. Putting DP in, perhaps too early, would be "a high risk, low reward proposition." Also, look for the Isles to spark up a bit of creativity. The Sabres matched them hit for hit, starting the game with two on Smyth. The Sabres? Play to what the Isles showed. They gave up lots of room in their own end, so during rushes, go straight to the net! Also, faceoffs are so unstable, and that's something that really just needs to be there from game-to-game. Oh, and good job and not taking undisciplined penalties. I'm liking the clean first period.
LET'S GO BUFFALO!!!