Another day, another loss to a last place team. Make that another loss to a last place team while only scoring once. Obviously something isn’t going right down at First Niagara Center.
Last night’s catastrophe was a value game on the Sabres ticket pricing system, thank goodness for those who bought tickets. The first two periods were a snoozefest and only once did either team score – a NYI power play goal in the first.
The Sabres didn’t seem to have too much giddyup, despite being off since Saturday. Brayden McNabb continued to kill people, he and Robyn Regehr combined for six hits on the night. Once again, McNabb probably had more hits than the two allotted to him, but six is a good number for a nasty, mean defensive pairing.
This wasn’t one of those games where you could point to one or two moments and say “that is why the Sabres lost.” However, it was one of those games where the team was so flat you had to wonder if they cared to play the game at all. Certainly this group of players is professional enough to know each game in the NHL will be a battle, there really aren’t any throw away games. Maybe they’re not, I could be dead wrong.
Still, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville found their way to the scoresheet – even though it was by a goofy, bouncing pass to Jochen Hecht. Hecht did score his second of the season and Zack Kassian had a pretty decent fight in his third NHL game. Aside from that, and Jhonas Enroth, this team was bland, passionless and deserved to lose the game.
- About that Zack Kassian fight, it was a pretty good one. Not sure who actually landed the most punches, but give Kassian credit for standing up for Nathan Gerbe and proving that he is going to be a capable fighter in this league. Kassian has shown a nice brand of tough hockey in these first three games, it certainly shows a lot of promise for the future. Oddly, this wasn’t the first time these two guys have fought.
- Enroth was strong in net for Buffalo. It seemed like one of those games where he wasn’t quite in control, but made the saves he needed to make. I fear that will be one of his downfalls, his size will force him to play a reckless style at times, which may hurt him in the long haul. Still, he let his team hang around in a game where most didn’t seem to care about playing. It was another god effort from the young Swede as he has shown a bit of moxie since being yanked on Friday.
- Brayden McNabb is a beast and he was a +1. Even though plus/minus is a ridiculous stat, the kid has been good in these first two games. Keep him up here as long as you like, dude has got game.
- Ville Leino pretty much alienated any fans he had left with a brutal neutral zone giveaway and a subsequent miss on a yawning net. Yeah, the pass came at him quick and was in his feet. But for $4m+ on the cap, he needs to corral that one. It was nice to see him get back to the scoresheet Saturday, but we are getting to the point where you need to see more from him. If only he wasn’t stashed on the fourth line…
- Derek Roy was kind of wasted between Kassian and Nathan Gerbe, just as Hecht is a waste on the top line with Vanek and Pominville. Lindy Ruff has been far too impatient with his lines this season. He has to be partly to blame for Leino’s struggles, he is handcuffing other productive forwards and now the goal scoring has all but evaporated.
- Christian Ehrhoff’s adjustment period is officially over. He has come on in recent weeks and has come on hard. It reminds me of Brian Campbell’s coming-out party in the 2006 playoffs. Campbell was called upon to play big minutes and it turned him into an elite defenseman. It seems as if the same is true of Ehrhoff.
1. Al Montoya
2. Brian Rolston
3. Jochen Hecht