Before I even begin talking about the Sabres: THE BUFFALO BILLS WON THE MAC CHAMPIONSHIP, BEATING THE UNDEFEATED BALL STATE TEAM!!!
It is seriously the most uplifting story I've read in the longest time.
Willie Evans was the starting halfback for the Bills in 1958, when the team went 8-1 and earned the school's first bowl bid - an invitation to play in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. But the Orlando High School Athletic Association, which held the lease on the field, prohibited blacks and whites from playing together. The Bulls would have to leave their two African-American players - Evans and reserve defensive end Mike Wilson - at home if they wanted to play Florida State.
Upon learning of the segregation policy, the players voted unanimously to reject the bid.
The 1958 team's unified stance against racism served as a motivation for the current Bulls team.
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Looks like the winning spirit is back in Buffalo (let's see what happens in the Bills-Dolphins game today, though arguably, that's being played in Toronto). Even though the Sabres couldn't hold onto their lead three times against Tampa Bay, they finally held onto it for the 4th time and won it 4-3.
(But seriously, even if Buffalo lost, Tampa Bay would still have "BOLTS" written across their 3rd jersey. THAT'S NEVER GOING TO CHANGE, SORRY GUYS.)
1. Hits: Tampa Bay 25, Buffalo 12. Ouch.
2. Faceoffs: Tampa Bay 21, Buffalo 18. Ouch, again. Gaustad won 4 of 14, Roy won just 6 of 19.
3. Ice times: Conspicuously standing out as the player with by far the least ice time, Clarke Macarthur logged just 8:28. Also note, Tallinder logged just 10:48 on the D.
4. Nathan Gerbe: Word up to our Portland partners! He didn't get any points (yet), but he was +2, with 4 shots on net. He also won his first and only faceoff thus far.
1. Okay, I don't know what's up with Miller and maybe he'll be upset at me for saying this too, but really Miller? You're letting in soft goals. Heck, I'm just listening to the game and not even watching it, but I think they're soft goals. And if they're not, you just have to go back to regular form again and start making those saves like you used to. I'm siding with Lindy on this one, so squabble all you want. Miller's GAA and SV% (3.34 and .882 in the last month, respectively) has absolutely plummeted in the last month and I don't think you can pin this entirely on the defence, which has killed of the last 24 PKs.
2. To repeat, Buffalo PK unit has killed of the last 24 PKs, which puts them at the 4th best in the league. The defenceman of the year has been Lydman, who picked up an assist last night. Don't forget Spacek either; he's quietly amassed 12 assists and 1 goal, logging in solid minutes on the defence (team lead of 23:10 per game). And as much as Rivet has his whole "presence" on the team and what-not, he seriously has got to start playing better. He's 3rd worse on the team with a -8, and as a defenceman, that's horrible.
3. But speaking of +/- in general, after getting +2 in his very first game as a Sabre, Gerbe leads the team. THAT IS RIDICULOUS. SERIOUSLY. The only people that are above even (meaning +1) are Stafford and Connolly. The only people even are Lydman, Vanek, and Ellis (yeah, wtf, right). This shows several things: There are too many goals getting let in and the team is not scoring enough. (Obvious points are obvious.)
3a. Too many goals getting let in: As noted, this may partially be the fault of the defence, but Miller has to go back to top-form, even if it means that he's got to stop more of the odd-man rushes. Yes, that's tough, but the Sabres were able to rely on him previously to stop them. This isn't anything new; this is how the team has always played (d-men pinching on the rush = more odd-man rushes given up).
3b. The team is not scoring enough: Despite the fact that Vanek has still managed to keep his league leading 19 goals (tied with Jeff Carter of the Flyers), there are still way too many players that aren't scoring: Pominville, Kotalik, Stafford, Afinogenov, and Hecht. However, the only way these players score is if they can build more offensive pressure (getting d-men to pinch) ... which goes back to the need for goalie confidence, meaning Miller has got to make more stops when they give up odd-man rushes.
I'm sorry to say it, but I really think that the team is lacking confidence from their goalie not being able to make stops when they need it. In the last few games, the goals are getting scored not from holes in the defence during continued pressure in their own zone or from teams taking advantage of the PP. It's been on the rushes. If the rushes are given up because the d-men are pinching on the offence (which has always been Lindy's strat), then Miller has got to save them, so the offensive unit can be more aggressive.
I'M ROOTING FOR YOU RYAN MILLER