I'm doing something a little different tonight. After each period, I'm going to do a period recap as the game goes on... Talk to you after the first!
0-0 End of 1
That was a pretty boring period. Both teams seem to be playing very cautious hockey. Yes, there are scoring chances for each team, but I wouldn't really call them exceptional. This seems to be the opposite of how Buffalo should be playing at this time. Buffalo needs wins and like I've said before, needs to play desperate hockey. This isn't the time to do stop that. Hopefully Buffalo will regroup after the 1st, and come out playing a little harder and start playing with that certain level of determination to try to win.
The one big thing that has surprised me is the fact that there is very little physical play. This is shocking. I figured Boston would be coming out playing hard, especially after getting embarrassed their last time in Buffalo. I'd expect Buffalo to be trying to match Boston just due to the fact that if you don't match Boston's physical play, you lose. That may benefit Buffalo, if Buffalo can come out and start using their speed, and start generating some better offensive chances. This will force Boston to play Buffalo's game, instead of Buffalo getting sucked into their physical style.
My highlight of the period... I loved the hit Sekera put on Marchand. Not because Marchand shot his mouth off Everyone spent too much time on what an ignorant player said, instead of focusing on winning tonights game. I loved the hit because Sekera played the body, not the puck. He efficiently took Marchand out of the play, and enabled his defensive partner to go back and get the puck.
Also- Very glad to see Drew Stafford back on the ice after that collision in the 1st.
Finally, I hope the fans get into this game a little more. It seems like the arena is empty tonight. I've heard no "Let's Go Buffalo" chants, or anything positive for the team. I'm just hearing boo's for Marchand, Lucic, and Chara. Hopefully Buffalo can do something to get the fans engaged in this one...
More coming after the 2nd, and I'll respond to any comments.
1-0 Buffalo after 2 periods
Goals- 14:45- Sekera, Assists from Ennis and Stafford Even Strength 1-0 Buffalo
Only goal of the period revealed which team lapsed in their game plan. Both teams had been making sure there was no space to maneuver in one's own end. Each team has been very restricted with their chances. However, Boston made the mistake of leaving a wide open patch of ice for Sekera to slide into. Ennis hit him with a great pass, and Sekera buried it. Great initiative for Sekera to slide up on the play, and hit the open patch of ice. That goal doesn't happen if he doesn't move up on the play. Leino deserves a lot of credit for setting up the screen on Rask.
Buffalo's penalty kill has looked very good as well tonight. Boston has had the only 2 power plays thanks to Corey Tropp. However, the Bruins have barely generated any chances to score on the power play.
Highlight of the period, Miller's save on Seguin 1 minute into the 2nd. If he doesn't stop Seguin on his breakaway, this game takes a whole new spin. Miller delivers once again, and hopefully he'll keep it going in the 3rd.
The scariest moment tonight was when Boston generated some good opportunities early in the 2nd. Buffalo seemed to get away from their style of play, and was getting back to the poke check method of defense. That was when Boston generated some of it's best chances. As the period progressed, Buffalo got back to just eliminating the open ice in their own end. Kudos for fixing this quickly.
I'll be back at the end of the 3rd with my players of the game, and a recap of tonights matchup with the Bruins.
Final Score 2-1 Buffalo, in the Shootout
Goals-3:36 Chara- Unassisted, Power play goal. 1-1
Wow, that game got pretty interesting pretty quickly.
Buffalo nearly lost control of this game. After Chara registered the lone goal for the Bruins tonight, Boston was in charge. They aggressive Bruin forecheck had the Sabres getting away from what had worked so well in the first 2 periods. Boston clearly dictated the terms of the 3rd period, and Buffalo had trouble getting momentum back after the Chara power play goal. Buffalo was outshot 15-5, 3rd period. Not the type of play you want to see when you have to get 2 points, not just 1.
Poor penalty from Vanek at the end of regulation. Vanek's a veteran of the NHL. He should know better. However, Buffalo's penalty kill delivered again. Buffalo just looked great killing it off in regulation and in overtime. Then, the Sabres awoke after that penalty kill, and regained a lot of that drive, and player a very hard overtime period. I love the fact that something as little of a strong penalty kill, can light a fire under this team. Great opportunity for Vanek to win the game, but was stoned by Chara by throwing himself in the way of Vanek's backhand.
Shootout Stats (taken from NHL.com)
Roy- Goal Game winner.
Buffalo finds a way to get 2 more much needed points. They really delivered tonight and again, found a way to win. Buffalo is starting to show that they are able to compete. Another tough matchup tomorrow night against the Rangers. If Buffalo can win, this dictates what moves Buffalo may make on Monday.
Andy's 3 Stars
3. Andrej Sekera- Played good aggressive defense tonight and netted his 3rd goal. Sekera actually took Boston forwards off the puck, and didn't try to do the poke check style of hockey Buffalo played earlier in the season. Also, great awareness and a willingness to join the offensive attack on his goal.
2. Zdeno Chara- Sorry Buffalo fans, I'm putting him in here for 2 reasons. 1. He had a solid goal, and delivered when his team needed it. Leaders want the puck in crucial situations. He got it on the power play, and let that rocket of a shot of his fly to tie the game. This gave the Bruins momentum for the last 15 minutes of the game, and got the Bruins 1 point out of tonights game. 2. The sacrifice to extend his body to stop Vanek in overtime. Rask didn't get that save. Chara came back and got his stick in the way to make the crucial stop to keep the game tied and headed to the overtime.
1. Ryan Miller- Shocker, right? 35 saves on 36 shots is all you need to know. Miller is being the backstop that the Sabres need right now. Miller finally looks like he's in his eliminate, and it's helping this team move forward, and make strides towards 8th place in the East.
Again, this wasn't really a pretty win tonight. However, in the end, 2 points, are 2 points. I don't necessarily care about how they get the points. Right now, 5 points out of 8th, 21 games to go. Going to be one exciting ride for the Buffalo Sabres and their fans.