Again, Buffalo finds themselves going up against a team who hasn’t managed to win this season. While they are without Thomas Vanek today, keep in mind that’s not an excuse. They lost the last 2 games with him in the lineup.
I like what I see offensively from this team. I really do. However, that’s only when they use their speed, and when they make smart decisions with the puck. Ennis’ goal is an example of when Buffalo makes questionable decisions on the ice. Stafford makes a great move to get the interception in the neutral zone, and sets up Steve Ott. While Ott has a great shot lined up, he chooses to pass to Ennis. It’s not even that great of a pass to Ennis. He needs to take a second to get control of the puck, and then he lets the shot go. He’s lucky Neuvirth was moving, and was able to slide it under him. If you’re going to pass, especially in this situation, better be tape to tape.
I’m also seeing Grigorenko starting to take more shots today. He seems to be finally starting to be a little more creative with his offensive opportunities. He barely took any shots his first few games. Today, he’s let a few good chances fly, and he’s driving hard to the net. He’s also using his size and is trying to screen Neuvirth. However, Ruff keeps him on the bench at the end of the game. What have you got to lose at this point? Give the kid a shot.
However, passive play in Buffalo’s own end led to Joel Ward putting in another goal. There’s no reason why Hodgson should have let him just walk into the slot. Also, there’s no reason to let the Capitals control the boards nonstop whenever they are in the Sabres end. Same thing happened with Erskine’s goal to make this 2-1 Capitals. Buffalo refuses to pressure, they try to establish a perimeter, and fail to play the body to get their opponents off the puck. How long can this go on?
As today’s game continued, Buffalo’s offensive play disappeared, especially in the 2nd period. Personally, I think that Buffalo’s offense returns to better form if they can play better in their own end. Buffalo’s soft play continues to be a death sentence. This is now 4 straight games that fans have been subjected to this. Now, I caught a lot of flak last year from people saying that Buffalo’s team was subjected to injuries, and that’s what contributed to the poor season. Now, I’m curious, not a lot of injuries right now outside of Leino, and today Vanek. What’s the excuse now? We’re running out of them. Another loss today, and it certainly is not because of injuries.
Ovechkin finally puts in a goal against Buffalo, and why? Even on the penalty kill, the Sabres just stand still. The one guy who Buffalo should be focused on, is standing wide open and is able to blast the puck past Miller. Foligno was the one bright spot being able to pull Buffalo to within 1 by crashing the net and following the rebound to slide it past Neuvirth. However, it wasn’t enough, and Buffalo gives another winless team their first win of the season.
The definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein, is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” This can easily be applied to the Sabres style of play, especially in their own end. It does not work. So why do we keep doing it?
Buffalo continues to simply give their opponents their own end. There’s no attempting to stand up the oncoming rush at the blue line. Buffalo also continues to collapse in front of Miller instead of challenging shooters. I can’t tell you how many times I’d see all 5 Sabres players clumping in the slot area, and trying to set up the perimeter. Even when they do that, it doesn’t work, and their opponents cycle the puck freely, and eventually get a phenomenal scoring chance. Only reason why this game wasn’t worse than what it was? Take a guess. That’s right, Ryan Miller.
So once again, Buffalo allows another team to get their first win of the year. So if your team needs a jump start, or need a big win, look at your teams schedule. Maybe Buffalo will be heading to your town soon.
Follow me on twitter- @SabresBTB
Also, I'll be doing a podcast tonight on www.betweenthebenches.com
. We're going to be hitting on the Regier extension, Grigorenko, and several other issues facing the Sabres. Check it out!