The final score from tonight, shockingly, is 1-0 Rangers, but Buffalo did play a solid game. Last night, good effort against the Habs, but again, it’s the Habs, and they aren’t exactly setting the world on fire this season (sorry Montreal).
Ryan Miller has been a god send. He has looked simply stellar and back on his game lately. He has stood on his head. Also, the defense around the Sabres cage has improved. Miller isn’t having to make extraordinary saves non-stop. He is being the back stop that Buffalo needs and deserve.
The scoring for Buffalo is still, lackluster. Buffalo needs to bury their opportunities, (Roy tonight in overtime... However, he was on his backhand). Lundqvist was stellar tonight as well, standing on his head in regulation, overtime, and the shoot out (Boyes’ shot) to keep Buffalo from walking away with 2 points.
Buffalo did clear the air on some issues that have been up plaguing the Sabres lately...
First... Buffalo did not re-establish their image as Garth seems to think, with statements like “No more Mr. Nice Guys.” They did not get it back last night. Again, I don’t know what games he’s been watching. Tonight, through 2 periods, Buffalo was being out hit 24 to 8. At the end of the game, Buffalo is out hit 28 to 14. Plus, watch Buffalo come into the zone on the offensive attack. The Rangers were able to stand up the forwards easily, and take them out on the attack. Buffalo still needs to bulk up a little, and play with more force.
Second... Injuries... ARE NOT AN EXCUSE FOR LOSING!!!!! (that’s for Garth, who’s adding 2 more man games to his total for the season) Vanek and Stafford were both out of the lineup. Vanek has been one of Buffalo’s best players this season. Buffalo played hard throughout the game. These are both 2 good players for Buffalo (Stafford has struggled, yes). However, Buffalo didn’t roll over and die just because a few players were hurt. Buffalo played their hearts out tonight and did manage to get a point out of tonights game, against one of the top teams in the NHL.
Some things that would be great to see Buffalo keep working on, they need to get aggressive... now. Buffalo has to play the dump and chase game when on the attack because their opponents make them. Buffalo’s opponents are able to carry the puck in over the blue line on the attack because Buffalo lets them. Also, the Rangers were almost constantly attacking the Sabres. Buffalo would get possession of the puck in their own end, and the Rangers were still trying to take it away. They even got some good scoring opportunities because of it. I’d love to see the Sabres do this. They still seem to back off the minute their opponents get the puck.
What I really liked, is that Buffalo played desperate hockey. They wanted this win, and were trying to generate opportunities. Plus, they played with a great drive and passion, and didn’t look like a team that had played a game on the road last night. Buffalo also was using their speed. Buffalo’s speed is one of their strengths. Tonight, they used it. Plus, the Sabres took a ton of shots, They aren’t trying to be fancy anymore. If the shot is available, they take it. These are some very good bright spots here, but there is still a lot of improvement that needs to be done.
Buffalo still has improvements to make, hence why the jury is still out. However, they’ve already made the biggest improvement that they needed to. Buffalo looks like they believe they can win again. When you believe you can win, you start to find ways to win.