Two different one-goal leads escaped the Sabres last night as did a precious point for their playoff run. Ryan Callahan scored the deciding goal against the Sabres for the third time this season, this time in OT.
Pat Kaleta had a pretty rough night, getting beaten on Marian Gaborik’s game tying tally and then being undressed by Callahan on the winner. For the first time in a number of games, the Sabres allowed their opponents dangerous scorers in alone on their goalie. For the first time in number of games they paid dearly.
Ryan Miller certainly wasn’t the goalie who has ran up sparkling numbers since January 1, he also received less support than he has recently. Without Miller’s dazzling play in the first period, the game had great potential to be a blowout. Miller made 14 of his 25 saves in the opening stanza.
Another ugly trait reared its head last night. While the Sabres got a pair of goals from a forward, they only managed a handful of shots on goal. Drew Stafford potted two goals, but the Sabres only managed to direct 17 more shots towards Henrik Lundqvist. The last time Buffalo had a shooting effort that was so poor, Miller bailed them out with a shootout win against New Jersey. For the record, the Sabres only manged 14 shots that night.
With the deadline coming tomorrow afternoon, Darcy Regier still needs to address the fact that his forwards are incapable of performing on a consistent basis. It would seem that Miller has truly settled into a groove and the top-six defensemen are performing admirably. However, the forwards have been out to lunch for a good portion of the season. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are the only two who have been consistently effective all season. Tyler Ennis has turned the corner in his new role at center, but still isn’t going to have fantastic numbers. Ville Leino has shown flashes of brilliance, but still hasn’t come around and the other scorers – Derek Roy, Stafford and even Nathan Gerbe – have been largely invisible this season.
If changes are made to the top six, there could still be a legitimate chance at creating enough offense to turn this season around.
- I didn’t hate everything I saw from Ryan Miller. Obviously he would have wanted the first goal back. but he made a number of key saves that showed me he is still on top of his game. Buffalo has been leaning on Miller for a while now, there was bound to be a game that he couldn’t support just two goals.
- Obligatory Pat Kaleta reference. He, and his line, have played some effective hockey as of late. Unfortunately Kaleta was right in the middle of the action for two big gaffes yesterday.
- Buffalo did manage to take five of six points for the week. I’m not up on the exact record they need to steal a playoff spot, but they need to basically take every point available for a lengthy stretch to leapfrog the teams they’re chasing.
- Derek Roy is still picking up points and Drew Stafford has actually begun to heat up. I wonder if they’re improved play will garner any additional attention from suitors at tomorrow’s deadline?
- Thomas Vanek’s pass to Stafford was slick. His vision has really come around the past two seasons, he is becoming a complete offensive threat. Now if Lindy Ruff would only give him a ton of ice time.
- Zack Kassian played just over six minutes. Can the Sabres please recall Paul Szcechura to give a little more offensive spark to the fourth line? Give Kassian (and Tropp) someone who can create more, maybe it will pay dividends.