As I fought the stomach bug that has been traveling through, I wasn't able to comment immediately on Paille's trade. Now that I bring up his trade, my gut is starting to gurgle again.
I find this trade rather surprising. Now, I'll be the first to admit that Dan Paille has been a minor disappointment for a first round draft pick. However, Darcy Regier's explanation of having too many offensive players was mildly amusing. Prior to the game on Wednesday, I saw a video clip of his explanation for this trade. He stated there were too many offensive players to keep on this team at the current time. The first thing that popped into my mind was, wait a minute, this is the team with 9 plus defensive players with NHL experience under contract, and if one offensive player goes down to injury, Portland's phone will be ringing.
There are numerous benefits and downsides to this trade. One, it opens up for more cap space (as if there wasn't enough of that already) and potential for bringing in another player to help bolster the Sabres lineup. Plus, Paille has been a disappointment. I don't mean that he's a bad player. He just didn't live up to expectations. On the downside, Buffalo is now very shorthanded on offense. If one player goes down offensively, Buffalo will be calling Portland to have Mancari or Gerbe coming to Buffalo.
Florida Panthers 10/21/09
Luckily, this game didn't coincide with one of the ALCS games. Curse of this time of year. However, had this game been on as the same time as the ALCS, I would only have had to watch the first period to know the result, with the exception of the late third period goal by the Panthers.
The offense in the first period was amazing. 5 different goal scorers. 14 players got a point during the first period. However, it stopped immediately after the first period. Buffalo started out dominant, and then appeared to sit back. Now this may fly against the Panthers, but it sure won't work against the Devils next week. The other perk of this offensive production, is that Buffalo has numerous lines with the threat to score. Great teams win not by having one good line, but by having numerous lines that can put the puck in the back of the net. These lines deliver for 60 minutes, not just 20.
Buffalo is getting plenty of shots, which is great. This needs to continue. However, defensively, they need to tighten up. Now, the excuse used after the first period for giving up 17 shots was that Buffalo took four penalties. What about the last two periods? 26 shots over the last two periods to the Panthers is a little scary. I hope the team is taking Ryan Miller out for a steak dinner for this.
At this point, I'd really like to be able to draw on here. However, I'll do my best to explain it. The Sabres have been clumping in their own end quite a bit. The first few games that I watched, I noticed Buffalo was putting pressure on their opponents in their own end. This in turn, forced turnovers by their opponents and more opportunities for the Sabres. I feel the Sabres should return to this approach. Make your opponents beat you. Don't collapse while they pass around in your own end.
Also, Buffalo did get numerous shots offensively, 20 total for the last two periods. Keep that pressure on. Don't just get a lead and hold onto it. Don't just try to sit on it. Some team's styles are to sit back once they get a one or two goal lead. Keep applying pressure. Don't stray away from your game. Buffalo is an offensive team with the potential to score 5, 6 goals a night. Play your game, don't change it.
All in all, this was a very good effort from Buffalo. However, this wouldn't have happened against a team like New Jersey, or Montreal. If Buffalo had taken their guard down against them, Buffalo risks losing the game. Next comes the Lightening. Hopefully Buffalo will be able to come out with the same authority as they did against the Panthers, and carry it through for 60 minutes.