Between the Pipes: Canucks blank Sabres

The Sabres mailed in yet another listless effort on home ice, allowing 28 shots through two periods and watching the Canucks skate away with a 3-0 win.

A pair of storylines have dominated the Sabres season thus far and they have been the stellar play of both Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth to go along with flat efforts from the ranks of the Sabres skaters. Thursday was yet another prime example of both. While Miller weathered the storm, the Sabres struggled to generate zone time.

Chris Higgins’ one-timer off Cody McCormick’s feed – yes you read that properly – was all that was going to be needed by Vancouver. Brad Richardson scored on a shorthanded deflection and Ryan Stanton scored his first career goal in the third.

That was the long and the short of it as the Canucks were operating on serious cruise control in the third and that’s likely the only reason they didn’t break 40 shots. A 28-14 edge in shots through two periods was a continuation of what has occurred in each and every game so far in this young season.

Miller chose not to speak to the media after the game and I can’t blame him. He’s been hung out each game, has been phenomenal in each performance and has a 1-5-0 record to show for it. Even if he was playing at an average level, no goaltender deserves that type of treatment. There are few players in the league, let alone the Sabres roster, who are more passionate and outspoken than Miller. I can only imagine his comments would have created some sort of firestorm with the media and fans alike. Besides, he stood tall all game, it was about time he was granted a reprieve.

Ryan Miller

What he did well

This will read quite similar to Tuesday’s round up as Miller was phenomenal for the entire game. He saw a game’s worth of pucks in the first 40 minutes and held his team within striking distance all night. You hear a lot about his inability to steal games for his team, if he was playing behind goal support I’m fully confident he would have stolen a whole lot more than he’s given credit for.

Where he struggled

Miller was deep in the net on Vancouver’s first goal. He was forced to make a quick adjustment on the original turnover and likely wasn’t expecting the one timer to come once the puck reached Cody McCormick. Still, he was on the goal line and didn’t have much of a shot at a save.

Save of the game

Miller had a number of dandies but the breakaway stop in the second period was indeed the best. It was a strong move on top of the paint and a well timed poke. He got some help from Ristolainen on the way through, but it was a nice stop.

Roberto Luongo

What he did well

Lu tweets with the best of them, I can tell you that much. As for the game, Luongo was able to kick back and relax for three periods as the Sabres barely tested him for most of the contest. Still, he controlled his space and earned his shutout.

Where he struggled

He looked out to lunch on his turnover behind the net in the third, but when you get a shutout you typically don’t have many shortcomings.

Save of the game

There were a few net-front battles that I really was impressed with throughout the night. Luongo covers the bottom of the net well, especially when he gets his butterfly wide.


  • Once again Mikhail Grigorenko played a miniscule role for the Sabres. While it’s obvious that he still needs to mature in many facets of his game, the roles he’s been given are far from what you’d expect for a highly touted prospect the organization hopes to develop as a cornerstone of the franchise. Or at least that’s what you’d expect.
  • Support in the defensive zone from their forwards may be the biggest issue for the Sabres currently. While there has been some inconsistencies from the blueliners but support from the forwards has been abysmal at times. The Stanton goal is a great example as Brian Flynn was sucked all the way down to the crease along with Johan Larsson and the defensemen. That needs to be improved.
  • Some of the biggest issues that seem to be coming up – power play, defensive coverage etc. – certainly seems like it may be tied to coaching, not just talent, no? Something to think about.
  • The Miller and Vanek trade rumors are going to keep rolling along. They’re going to command plenty of attention up until the deadline, I hope you’re ready.


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