Buffalo has began their season by scoring four goals in the first three games of the season. For most teams, this would be a huge problem. The Sabres managed to escape with five out of a possible six points to start the year.
Buffalo's real test will come this Tuesday when they host the Red Wings at HSBC arena. Detroit has not got off to a great start, and will be quite a challenge for the Sabres. The Sabres have put 116 shosts on goal in the first three games, at least 35 in each game. Buffalo has been putting plenty of shots on goalies, but were unable to score more than twice in one game.
Not only have the goaltenders of Nashville and Phoenix been holding the Sabres offense down, it has been the backups doing the job. Jason LaBarbera stopped 37 shots and Pekka Rinne stopped 41 shots: both not good enough to beat Buffalo.
Buffalo has scored four goals this year: the lowest total in the league. They still managed to gain five points, putting them 2nd in the Northeast Division, with a game in hand over first place Ottawa (6 pts.)
On the other hand, Washington has scored 20 goals in 5 games, but they only have 5 points. The main reason for that is the 18 goals they have allowed. With a lot more games against the Western Conference this season, Buffalo may see a lot more of the lower scoring games.
It has only been three games, and there is much much more hockey to play. Buffalo is not used to these defensive battles. Three years ago, Buffalo led the league with 308 goals. They were able to win games with 5,6, and 7 goals. Of course that was with Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. Still, Buffalo should be scoring more than two goals a game. This is not how head coach Lindy Ruff wants games to be played. Buffalo went into Nashville and beat them at their own game.
Buffalo's defense and goaltending has allowed them to win these close games. The Sabres have allowed three goals in as many games. Tyler Myers has already proved that he will be a big factor on the team this season. Not only has he played solid defensivley, he made a big play to assist on Thomas Vanek's game winning goal against Phoenix.
Players to watch:
Patrick Kaleta drew 10 minutes in penalties in the game against Phoenix. Buffalo capitalized on the final power play. Kaleta also delivered a huge hit on Petr Prucha in the second period. Sabres' fans should expect to see more of this and other teams need to be aware. Also, In the game against Nashville, Tim Kennedy was the one aggravating the defense and causing issues.
Kevin "Game Winner