Posted 6:40 PM ET | Comments 2
As I sat down last night thinking that I would mainly be watching baseball. I was surprised to find out that the ALCS game was rained out, and I'd have to wait another night. This meant, bring on the Sabres. However, the Sabres game was a little scary.
I noticed numerous things against Tampa. I'm amazed I have made it this far without saying this, I was disconcerted with the referee's during this game. Now, I know a team contributes to the loss, but sometimes, you get reffed. Numerous penalties were not called, on both sides. So at least there was some consistency. However, I felt (and this could be me) that a lot of these went against Buffalo. The best two examples would be the hit on Kaleta, when he didn't even touch the puck and got clocked, obviously interference, and Connolly getting hauled down just over the Tampa Bay line tripping. Oh wait, he wasn't on a break-away, two d-men were back for Tampa. Oh wait, IT DOESN'T MATTER. I'd put a large some of money if it was say, St. Louis or Lecavalier, it would have been called a tripping penalty.
Someone the other day commented that a lot of the shots were coming from the perimeter. Well, these shots matter, regardless. If your defense is clumping there's more chance for deflection, or a screen to beat you goalie. If the pressure is consistent and forces your opponent to pass the puck quickly, no one is going to be sitting in front of your goalie, and he makes the easy save. Personally, I have a better time stopping something if I can see it coming. I'm sure Miller feels this way too. However, this is a moot point because a lot of shots weren't coming from the point Saturday.
Tampa was able to get close and personal with Miller. These weren't from the outside, they were up close! Looking at the shot chart on NHL.com from this game, shots were being taken up close to Miller. Perimeter shots are great, but let's keep it to that. If you're going to give up shots, try to keep them low quality. Lecavalier's goal in the first was a lapse by Buffalo. Pounce on the puck, and get away from the front of the net. This goal shouldn't have happened. Stamkos, well, he got a gift, but he still was way up close to Miller. Spread out, and keep the pressure on the offense, don't clump in front of your net. This is Florida and Tampa the Sabres are doing this against, it will not work against New Jersey this week.
Buffalo kept the pedal to the metal in the third, after giving up Stamkos's goal. Thanks to that, it resulted in Staffords tier with 17 seconds left in the game. The team applied solid pressure, but need to make it 60 minutes. Keep pushing it. The drive late is great. The Sabres are great at doing this. The late pressure on opponents is strong. This needs to not just be for one period, let's make it for for three.
The shoot out was a little, different as well. I was at a game against New Jersey, it'll be about two years ago, and i was lucky enough to be sitting in the end so I could watch the Sabres come in on Martin Brodeur. I took film on my digital camera, and watched it. The shootout players would skate into the slot area, and let a wrist shot go. Of course, Brodeur stopped it. It's the best goalie in the world, try to do something fancy. It was like a flashback watching this shootout. Stafford, Vanek, and Roy all took shots from the slot area, and Smith stopped them easily. Myers, was able to make the move and put it in the net to win. For those of you who forgot, the first three are on offense and are paid to make these moves, Myers is not. All of Tampa's shots were in up close on Miller, trying to make a move to pull him down. I hope there's a better effort in the future.
All in all, I feel this was lucky for Buffalo to come away with two points. God bless Ryan Miller. He is continuing to make a name for himself between the pipes. The Sabres get a real test going into Jersey Wednesday night. At this point in the season, Buffalo is playing good hockey, but not great hockey. With being able to play opponents like Tampa, the Islanders, and Florida early, it's a good opportunity to hammer out the little kinks that they have.
Buffalo does look like they are a solid team at the moment. I did doubt this at the start of the year, and I know it's early. However, I'm glad that my criticism of general management is being proved wrong. The scoring is being spread around, and I love being able to say that on any given night, I don't know who is going to step up and win the game. Could be Vanek one night, Rivet the next, and Ellis the next. Everyone has the potential to deliver. Wednesday will be a test, but I'm sure the Sabres will be up for it, and ready to go. Let's go Buffalo!