Two points go in the win column tonight but the Sabres only enjoyed a one-point improvement in the standings. Buffalo played two dominant periods of hockey before hanging on for a 2-1 victory over the Islanders.
The trade deadline is fast approaching and teams that sit on the playoff bubble are nearing the point where they need to decide if they’re contenders or pretenders. The Sabres will need help for a while longer if they are to climb into the eighth or ninth spot in the conference.
However, more performances like tonight will certainly help matters. Ryan Miller was brilliant yet again in goal, turning aside 30 of 31 shots and the Sabres received another smart performance from Tyler Myers along the way.
The obvious problem of not having the “right” players still exists. It appears that teams who remain in the hunt but realize their shortcomings are beginning to sell off pieces. The Sabres certainly fall into that boat, but have plenty of skill on the roster that may just need the right amount of glue to get them on a playoff run.
Frankly I see too many issues that need to be addressed before the Sabres are capable of making a true run in the playoffs. They could certainly get the ball rolling at the deadline and carry that momentum into the off-season. In the meantime, their push towards eighth will be an uphill battle and they will need those above them to stumble along the way.
- Thomas Vanek scored on a pretty feed from Derek Roy, the goal would count as the game winner. When Thomas Vanek scores it is a good thing. He has had a little bit of a bumpy ride since returning from injury. But it is obvious he remains one of the top offensive threats on this roster.
- Tyler Myers has had a nice run of strong games these past few weeks. He has shown some good vision from a defensive aspect and has made great choices jumping into the play. While I’m still waiting to see more of a physical edge to his game, I’m very pleased with the results he is coming up with.
- Ryan Miller’s breakaway save on Brian Rolston and the two-pad stack that followed was Hasekian. His cross-crease stop late in the game was brilliant as well. He has been sharp since the New Year and has been giving this team a chance to win on a nightly basis.
- I really like what I have been seeing from Ville Leino. It would be great if he could hit a real nice run of points to help raise his season totals. You can tell he has grown comfortable with his role and his teammates.
- Derek Roy and Paul Gaustad have been doing quite a bit for their trade value lately. Both continue to play strong hockey for a club who has needed quality play from its pivots all season.
- Jordan Leopold had a rough go this evening. He had a handful of turnovers and was caught floating in his end a handful of times. Maybe he figured he’d give any scouts watching a red herring in the event his name is floated in trade talk.
- Matt Martin has officially fought a different Sabre in every game between these teams this season. He took a mouthful of fists from Zack Kassian early in the year, Joe Finley took care of him pretty well on the Island, Pat Kaleta went toe-to-toe with him recently and tonight he jumped in with Mike Weber. Let me say that was a prime example of an instigator, not sure how it wasn’t called. But what a hit by Weber and he did a good job not getting knocked out in this tilt.