I'll be back here ready to go for the Sabres game tonight. Get my take on the game as it unfolds tonight. Stay tuned!
In order to win here, 5 minutes prior to puck drop, Buffalo needs to defend their end aggressively. Zetterberg leads this offense, and pose a serious threat if Buffalo gives them the blue line. Hopefully they have fast break outs of their own end. Keep the pressure on Jimmy Howard too. Get good shots, and capitalize on their opportunities.
Thank God Doug Allen is singing the anthems.
First minute of play- Here is the reason why I want to see Gragnani gone. He lets Detroit just walk into their own end. He should have just checked the Detroit forward and didn't.
17:27- I'm watching Buffalo fail to get the puck out of their own end. They need to make good passes out of their zone. Sloppy passes just led to a point-blank shot on Enroth. (Should be noted that turnover, Gragnani)
15:37- Zetterberg was just able to walk in between four Buffalo players. Shock, Gragnani didn't hit him, or at least try to take him off the puck.
Shortly after that, great scoring opportunity for Buffalo by Gerbe.
At the commercial break, six minutes in, Buffalo is playing extremely sloppy in their own end. Buffalo needs to be aggressive. Again, Detroit is one of the fastest teams in the league. How do you slow them down? STRONG BACK CHECK!!!
GREAT SETUP on Vanek's 2 on 1 opportunity. That's one of the first odd man rushes I've seen Buffalo take this year. Great awareness.
1-0 Detroit. Sekera needs to eliminate the Detroit forward in front of the net. He CANNOT be standing there. Again, the lack of aggressiveness and authority cost Buffalo a goal. As the shot is taken, Enroth is too busy to keep Sekera out of his way.
Power play coming up for Detroit, hooking on Roy.
8:46- Power play over. Looked a little shaky and Buffalo struggled to clear, but once Buffalo got the puck out of their own zone, they looked good on the kill.
8:20- GREAT awareness of Stafford to knock that puck down. Unfortunately, they couldn't capitalize, but have a face-off deep in the Detroit end.
2-0 Detroit- PPG... FAILURE on Buffalo's end to keep the slot clear. Sekera or Regher should have kept the forward out from in front of Enroth, and Gaustad or Kaleta NEEDS to keep an eye on Franzen, the goal scorer.
3-0 Detroit- Horrid giveaway by Buffalo. Hecht cannot do that. Gragnani tries to guess what Filppula is going to do, and Flippula makes him look horrid. Basic defense, wait for the offense to make their move, then respond. Buffalo's passes are sloppy, and they look sluggish.
4:45- Quick hands by Ennis to set up Roy for a good scoring chance.
End of Period 1, 3-0 Detroit- Recap
That was the worst period I have watched Buffalo play this season. I talked about dominating a hockey game before. What Detroit just did to Buffalo, was dominate the Sabres for 20 minutes. Detroit is getting shots that they shouldn't even be allowed to take. Buffalo needs to start playing aggressively. Detroit is limiting Buffalo's opportunities, the rare instances Buffalo gets them, by having an extremely strong back check. Buffalo has no space to move when in the Detroit end. Meanwhile, Detroit looks like they have a few miles of space to operate in when in the Buffalo end. To win this game, Buffalo needs to get the next goal, and also start to play aggressive hockey. Even on the penalty kill, Buffalo isn't challenging the Detroit players, by trying to force them to make a mistake.
I do need to challenge Garth (shock surprise I'm sure). While he's writing his live blog, he's talking about Enroth having a short leash. These goals are not Enroth's fault. Again, when you're a goalie, you are as good as the team in front of you. This period, the team in front of Enroth might as well have been a pee wee hockey team. Don't blame Enroth Garth, blame the entire team.
Win this game? Stop the stick checking pansy style hockey, start the strong back check, and get the next goal. Set the tone of this game, and let the Detroit forwards know, if you want to set up in our end, you will pay for it, and you're going to be either going into the boards, or onto the ice.
16:50- Buffalo Power Play. God knows they need that. Kassian did all the work to give them this power play. However, Detroit is continuing to not give Buffalo ANY maneuvering room. Keep your feet moving, and USE YOUR SPEED.
15:38- Sekera fails to keep the puck in, and Buffalo gives up yet another 2 on 1 for their opponents when Buffalo is on the power play, and 30 seconds later, Gragnani fails to keep the puck in at the point (no one pressuring him at the time). No goals for Buffalo as the penalty to Detroit expires.
13:30- The BEST line for Buffalo tonight has definitely been the Hecht, Pominville, Vanek line. They are getting very good chances on goal right now.
Smart by Roy to go in hard on the for check and draw the penalty on Kronwall. Another chance for the power play. Let's pray someone other than Sekera and Gragnani play the point.
To be fair, it was good to see Gragnani and Sekera take shots on the power play. They weren't necessarily good shots, but they took them none the less. Good effort by Stafford on his effort on the power play as well.
Side note, halfway through the 2nd period... I know I've ripped on Sekera and Gragnani a lot tonight about not playing physical. It isn't just them. NO ONE for Buffalo is playing physical hockey tonight. Detroit is able to do what they want, when they want.
Another power play for Buffalo, 3rd time's the charm?
Power play coming up for Detroit, Roy heads to the sin bin for the 2nd time tonight. Buffalo had been maintaining decent pressure, just unable to bury the puck. The penalty kill needs to come up BIG right now.
2:07- I FINALLY see a Sabres defensemen (Finley) take a player off the puck via body check. Guess what, the Red Wing forward lost control of the puck, Buffalo came up with it, and moved down the ice to get some shots on Jimmy Howard!!! SHOCKER!!!
Ehrhoff just did it too!!! AMAZING!!!
3-0 Red Wings, End of 2
As the boos cascaded down to the players on the ice, I'm shocked the boos came after that period compared to the first. Buffalo had some better opportunities this period. Buffalo moved better, and used that speed to get some strong scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, they couldn't bury the puck. They got very good opportunities, point men took shots on the power play, and Buffalo exposed that if they get down low on the Detroit defense, they can use their speed to generate chances. Fans should have been booing after the 1st period.
I'm praying for a comeback, I really am. Buffalo needs a very quick goal, and needs to continue to use their speed. The chances will come. BUT, it needs to be full circle. Buffalo needs to build off of the solid back check Ehrhoff and Finley just demonstrated in the last 2 1/2 minutes of the 2nd period.
GREAT back check by Gerbe to eliminate the 2 on 1 for the Wings. He came right in hard and took the guy off the play and broke it up. Then he gets the breakaway, and draws the penalty, Perfect time to make this a 2 goal game... Power play for Buffalo!
1 minute to go in the Kindl penalty- It's nice to see the Sabres actually take shots on goal. I'm used to watching Buffalo play with the puck and look for the perfect pass. It's too late to do that, take your shots, and create your own opportunities.
15:04- Sekera loses the battle with Helm, and lets him overpower him and get to the puck in the corner. Just an example of the aggressiveness Buffalo lacks
14:35- McNabb shows what Sekera lacks by CRUSHING Datsyuk as he tries to cross the Buffalo blue line (The Carubba Collision of the game!!!).
13:33- McNabb takes out another Detroit forward coming into the Buffalo end. Again, proving why I want him on this team. He's not afraid to take out incoming attacks from their opponents.
12:02- Buffalo is starting to get more scoring opportunities, but Jimmy Howard is keeping Detroit in this game right now...
Gragnani headed to the box. Again, I don't deny he's an offensive forward. However, Holmstrom stays right behind him, and takes the puck away from him. Any pressure Buffalo had, is now gone, as Detroit can now put the game away. This penalty doesn't just give Detroit a power play, but it takes 2 minutes (or less) off the clock that Buffalo could use to be on the offensive attack.
Good kill by Buffalo, included getting a shorthanded chance. However, the clock is now Buffalo's enemy... 8:41 to go...
Best wishes to Nathan Gerbe who just took Paul Gaustad's skate to his face...
3-1 Jochen Hecht gets Buffalo on the board with 6:14 to go. Beautiful goal, and great pass by Pominville to set up Hecht... However, at this point, it may be too little too late. No shut out tonight for Howard...
With about 1:30 to go... I watched Ehrhoff skate lazily back to touch up on an icing, I would like to see all players in the NHL, hustle back more to touch the puck on an icing... Every second counts in hockey, and that extra 1-2 seconds may pay off... as the old add campaign for the NHL said, "Don't blink"... Goals can be scored that fast...
4-1 Detroit, ENG- ANNNDDD the empty netter goes in for Detroit... and I'm pretty sure this one's over with 1:17 to go... Datsyuk puts an end to this one.
Detroit 4- Buffalo 1- Final Score. Final Thoughts
Buffalo played, I would say about 35-40 solid minutes of hockey tonight. They have proved once again that hockey is a 60 minute game. Buffalo seems to struggle piecing together 60 minute games.
I didn't hit on this much during the game, but Buffalo has struggled with turnovers the entire season. This has slowly snuck up to haunt their season up to this point. Buffalo needs to be smarter with the puck, and make crisp sharp passes as they exit their zone. Plus, Buffalo needs to work on creating their own turnovers when they are on the attack.
I've said it all season, and I'll continue to say it, this soft style of hockey will get Buffalo nowhere this season. Toughen up. Some defensemen stepped up late and started throwing some solid hits on forwards trying to gain the Buffalo blue line. However, Buffalo couldn't do that. From your blue line back, it is your castle, your home, your territory. Buffalo needs to defend it, WITH FORCE. The sooner they start doing this, the sooner Buffalo will start to make some progress. This stick check play that Buffalo tried to do tonight isn't going to work. Hit who has the puck, take them off the puck, instead of taking a chance, and just trying to poke it away.
Plus, offensively, Buffalo is getting good opportunities. The chances are coming... If they connected on some of these chances, Jeanneret would be screaming "ROLL THE HIGHLIGHT FILM!" from the press box. Buffalo needs to start burying those chances. They can't just be chances, they have to be goals. Teams do go through slumps... but Buffalo needs to get out of this one fast... and put together a nice win streak to get back on track.
Finally, Buffalo needs to play their game... Don't try to be a team you are not. Instead of trying to force something, be yourselves... and don't try to do too much. Hopefully Buffalo fixes this tomorrow night in Nashville.
Detroit was able to establish a 3 goal lead early, and control the game. They cruised to their 7th straight win tonight. Buffalo now hops on a plane and goes to Music City, and looks to rebound against the Predators... Don't let their 4th place in the Central division fool you; they are right behind the Blues, Blackhawks, and 5 points behind the Red Wings.