The Detroit Red Wings strolled into First Niagara Center and showed the Buffalo Sabres where they stood in every facet of the game.
By the end of the game it seemed pretty clear that the Sabres are a long way from being in the same class as the Wings – at least after yesterday’s effort.
Buffalo fell behind 3-0 after 15 minutes of play and didn’t break Jimmy Howard’s shutout until the final seven minutes of the game. Once again, the Sabres only managed to score one goal, the third such occurrence in their last five games.
The primary culprit to the Sabres woes were giveaways. Buffalo tries to pride itself on being a puck possession team, as do the Wings. The Wings were the only puck possession team last night. Detroit controlled the play leading to their first goal, their power play deposited their second and a brutal giveaway by Jochen Hecht led to the third. Even the empty net goal was caused by a sloppy play in the offensive zone.
Hecht was the lone goal scorer for the second-straight game. He roofed a two-on-one chance that capped a pretty nice passing play between Ville Leino, Jason Pominville and Hecht. There wasn’t too much offense beyond that play.
Defensively the Sabres seemed outmatched by the deeper, more talented Red Wings. Jhonas Enroth had a shaky outing, although he settled in during the second and third periods. It should be interesting to see if Ryan Miller does get the start in Nashville tonight.
Joe Finley didn’t see too much ice – 7:51 to be exact. Pat Kaleta was the only Sabre to see fewer minutes and that was because the gritty winger re-aggravated his groin injury. Finley, touted as a strong skater, looked sluggish and a bit over his head. Obviously you can’t draw much from a single game, but Finley’s debut was less than impressive.
Brayden McNabb is still playing good hockey. Two more hits and 18 minutes for the youngster. He seems to be coming around just fine.
Enroth really started the year on a tear, he hasn’t been super human since taking over the starting role. While Ryan Miller wasn’t brilliant in the games before his injury, it will be good to get him back in net. Having a pair of reliable goalies will likely do wonders for the psyche of this team.
Lindy Ruff will probably be shuffling his lines soon. Scoring one goal in three of their last four games is a serious problem, he needs to find a way to get his scorers going. Roy, Stafford and Vanek have been very quiet lately and that trend needs to stop.
Zack Kassian wasn’t horrible. He was -1 again, but he has shown he is going to be a capable NHLer when he gets a permanent spot. All of these injuries will keep him up for the foreseeable future, but you can tell he hasn’t reached that extra gear just yet. .
Last night was a game the Sabres should have won. Plain and simple, the Sabres outplayed the Coyotes in nearly every aspect of the game. The bounces just didn’t go their way.
Buffalo’s opening salvo alone should have produced at least three goals and probably contained double the scoring chances. Mike Smith had a little luck on his side as the Sabres found two posts and whiffed on a few open nets. Shane Doan took the air right out of the building with a rocket from the right boards that found the top corner behind Jhonas Enroth.
While the second period was where things got away from the Sabres – outscored 2-1 and outshot 15-14 – the story of the game was a lack of finish. Ville Leino did a marvelous job creating a pair of opportunities, Thomas Vanek had a handful of great chances, none of them went in.
Special teams were a moot point in a game that featured only three minors and neither goaltender looked particularly sharp. Smith made 43 saves to get the win, many of them point-blank, but he was fighting the puck in the early going. Enroth himself looked more like the goaltender from Wednesday, rather than the one that stoned the Hurricanes on Friday. He was kicking out bad rebounds, and looked very uncomfortable for most of the game. Hi struggles, just like Buffalo’s inability to finish, showed on the scoreboard. All three Phoenix goals fall into the questionable category. The first being particularly egregious while the other two had plenty of defensive lapses before the goalie was ultimately beaten for a softie.
Either way, Enroth needs to be sharp when his team outshoots the opponent the way Buffalo has recently. Twice this week the Sabres have held possession and the shot advantage and twice they have lost the game. The forwards need to start finding the net, they have had plenty of chances but haven’t cashed in and the goaltenders need to make a few more saves for the team in front of them.
Obviously the home woes haven’t been solved yet. They need to soon, the Sabres play 10 of their next 12 at First Niagara Center. A strong showing on this run will open up a gap between the Sabres and those giving chase.
Tyler Myers looked as if he injured his right arm/shoulder/wrist on Buffalo’s second period penalty kill. He was protecting it quite a bit in the corner before heading off the ice. Losing him will be a major blow to this team. Losing your number six man is one thing, losing a top three guy is a totally different monster.
Credit where its due, the Leino/Boyes/Stafford line is dynamic. They move well with the puck and all three compliment each other well. If anyone doesn’t fit it may just be Stafford. Regardless, good job by Lindy Ruff putting those three together.
Luke Adam was rewarded by the hockey gods after he found iron in the first. His tip-in goal was a big boost for a young kid who was recently demoted to the third/fourth line. While Adam may be best suited to play between Vanek and Pominville, his line with Nathan Gerbe and Corey Tropp was involved offensively and looked far more dangerous than the Ellis/Gaustad/Kaleta line.
Christian Ehrhoff looked foolish on Phoenix’s second goal. However, his last two games have been impressive. While his offense hasn’t shown up yet, he has been involved in the defensive zone. He has even begun to play with a physical edge, something he was missing for games one through seventeen.
I was disappointed BizNasty didn’t have a better celey planned for last night. I’m sure the last thing he thought he would do is score a goal. But still, I was really hoping to see a one-of-a-kind celebration from the NHL’s best Twitter feed.
Depending how you spin it, the Sabres either had a hiccup along the line of a solid run; or the Sabres have dropped two of their last three.
The latter may be more appropriate considering Buffalo has allowed five or more goals in three of their last five games – one of those was a victory over Winnipeg. Clearly the team’s streaky defense is becoming an issue while Lindy Ruff’s line shuffling continues to be an extreme success or failure.
New Jersey rode two early goals to a 3-1 first period lead and never led by less than two the entire game. Another slow start at home as to be concerning to the staff, it certainly has the fans questioning the team’s talent. Frankly, the fact that this team so often stumbles at home is starting to become a serious issue. The task now is to identify what is causing these slow starts. Is it the coaching staff, the players, a combination? No matter where the onus lies, this is something that needs to be hammered out. Ryan Miller has been hung out to dry in the opening minutes of a home game twice and Jhonas Enroth was the victim last night.
The only bright spot for the Sabres was Tyler Myers. His trip to the press box brought him back in full force. He played an aggressive game and was rewarded with two goals. The official stats credit him with only one hit, but I doubt that is actually an accurate number. Based on Myers’ response to being benched, perhaps Lindy Ruff should shelf more of his stars in the coming weeks.
Christian Ehrhoff takes the cake as the biggest disappointment for me early in the season. He is playing with zero passion and often looks as if he is loafing about the ice while he counts all of the zeros on the game check he will be collecting. It is about time that Ehrhoff find his game, he was an effective peice of the puzzle in Vancouver but hasn’t found a way to contribute in Buffalo. Just goes to show what happens when you overpay European players.
Jhonas Enroth is, in fact, human. While he didn’t get much help last night, the youngster had a very average outing on his way to being yanked after allowing five goals. He definitely got the Ryan Miller treatment from his teammates yesterday.
Don’t assume that Enroth being pulled was only because he played an average game. Ruff was likely trying to get him a few minutes to truly rest entering the weekend. The ten-minute respite may be an indication that Enroth will get the start on Friday and Saturday.
Slow start aside, it was the Sabres special teams which cost them yesterday. On the whole, the special teams units have been a big reason for Buffalo’s success. But a power play and short handed goal in the first five minutes is a recipie for disaster.
Fun times: Ville Leino picked up another apple. Dude just needs to keep finding his legs down the left wing. I have faith he will come around.
Still hate Derek Roy at center with Vanek and Pominville. The change-up pushed Luke Adam all the way to the fourth line while promoting Brad Boyes to center with Stafford and Leino. I contend that Stafford and Leino need a finisher at center, maybe Boyes meets that quota, but Adam is not at the point in his development where he can adapt to numerous lines. He fit perfectly with Vanek and Pominville, it would seem that moving him elsewhere is not going to work out.
Going over the Sabres 6-2 thrashing at the hands of the Boston Bruins would be overkill at this point. It is clear that Buffalo didn’t come ready to push back against a stronger, more physical team last night.
The Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller is a whole different monster that revolves around a scummy player and one team’s inability to sack up and answer the bell. My short opinion on that matter is Lucic went out of his way to injure Miller. He knew exactly what he was doing because that is the type of player he is. The Sabres failed to stand up for their goaltender, because that is the type of team they are.
As for the game, the Sabres again showed a complete lack of hockey sense when it came to playing defense. Miller turned in a fine performance through the two periods he played. Unfortunately Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera continue to make countless errors in zone and with the puck, the pair was on the ice for the first two Bruins goals. After that Marc-Andre Gragnani took a limp wristed attempt at stopping a two-on-one and the Bruins had deposited another goal.
There is no good reason for the Sabres to continue operating in this fashion. Their “top” defenseman (Myers) is seriously under-performing as he is sluggish all over the ice, is forcing passes and is not even close to the Calder winner or the defenseman many saw at the tail end of last season. There is obviously a major flaw in his offseason training program because he has opened the season with horrible stretches for two years in a row.
The rest of the defense isn’t immune to this either. Sekera had enjoyed a great stretch of hockey before tanking over the last week and a half. His play far eclipses Myers at times in terms of ineptitude. Sadly the two are paired together and the level of fail is almost nauseating.
Robyn Regehr is pretty much sitting on an island of misfit offensive defensemen at this point. He is the only true stay-at-home force the Sabres have – plus Mike Weber who can’t crack the lineup – and is obviously over his head in terms of staying responsible in zone. Jordan Leopold is exactly who you think he is, you can’t ask for too much more than he is giving at this point. In fact, that pairing is the only stable one that Sabres put out on a nightly basis.
As for Christian Ehrhoff and Gragnani, they may as well be playing wing. Ehrhoff is far too much of a risk to play with an offensive defenseman who lacks the toughness to lay a simple body check. Ehrhoff’s gaffe on the third Boston goal was bad last night, the feeble attempt Gragnani took at defending it was far worse.
It is time for a serious overhaul on the Sabres blueline.
As I stated above, Ryan Miller was having a strong outing for the Sabres. I suspect his upper-body injury was affecting his play and the team’s general lack of energy motivated the goalie change. Not much more can be asked of Miller last night when his defensemen are basically giving him a two-on-none to defend. From his perspective that game had to be a complete embarrassment to be a part of.
Jhonas Enroth didn’t get much more help from his teammates once he was in net. He also was not the superman has has been in the past few outings. Still, you can’t ask too much from a goalie in the situation he was inserted into.
Sekera and Gragnani get two major goat awards for their lack of effort on those two-on-ones. Sekera literally did nothing and Gragnani was so far back that Miller was still responsible for both the shot and pass.
Thomas Vanek scored, which is nice. Keeping the TV Party rolling is key.
Gragnani’s goal came on the power play, that is also a bonus. If that unit can stay effective it will certainly go a long way for Buffalo’s prolonged success. Hopefully that goal isn’t justification for keeping Gragnani in the lineup.
Gragnani is probably the first defenseman that should come out of the lineup. Sure, Ehrhoff, Myers and Sekera are all worthy of being benched too, but Gragnani is heads and shoulders worse that those other three. Is a trade in order? Perhaps. Is that a realistic solution? Probably not.
Better hope Miller’s injury is minor, anything that will keep him out longer could be devastating. Especailly considering the stretch of games the Sabres have this week.
The Sabres finally made one look easy, despite playing the dullest second period of the season. Buffalo chased Craig Anderson early and poured in five goals on Ottawa on their way to an easy victory.
Derek Roy continued his hot streak with a goal and two assists while the Subway Line continues to find the scoresheet on a nightly basis. This time it was Thomas Vanek making a nifty pass to Luke Adam for Buffalo’s fourth goal. of the evening.
The continued success of the Vanek-Adam-Pominville line is a nice luxury, the fact that the Leino-Roy-Stafford line has come to life is huge for this team. Leino, despite being fairly invisible for the first two periods, came to play in the third. His board work was fantastic and he manged to score his first goal in North America this season on a very nice three-on-two rush.
Buffalo’s defense was a completely different unit than the group that hit the ice on Tuesday. They made smart, easy plays with the puck and did a fantastic job protecting the house all night. Lindy Ruff mentioned it in his press conference, the Senators maybe had five or six quality chances all night.
The biggest beneficiary of the Sabres play in zone was Jhonas Enroth. The rookie turned away 36 shots, but few were of a great challenge to the netminder. Giving credit where it is due, Enroth made a few dazzling saves and turned in a gem for the Sabres last night. His play is exactly what they need and it seems as if he is going to be able to carry it on for some time.
The only thing that would have kept Enroth in for tonight’s game against Boston would have been a shutout. Considering he played back-to-back last weekend, Ruff will not want to over work him too early on in the year. Still, he has put forth an excellent stretch of games and he has likely pushed his projected starts from 20-25 to 30+ for the year.
Tyler Myers certainly wasn’t stellar last night. However, he played within himself and made good choices with the puck. I feel his play will take some time to come along again this year, I truly wonder if his offseason conditioning program is not up to snuff.
Corey Topp will be returned to Rochester. However, his NHL debut was impressive. He manged to find the back of the net, was on for a couple of goals for and was generally effective in his role. I would imagine he will see at least 15 games this season due to injury.
I think Ville Leino’s season is finally ready to begin. He was shuffled to four different lines before settling on the wing with Roy and Stafford. This appears to be the right spot for him as his playmaking seems to be back on track. Prime example: he led the three-on-two and made a slick pass to Stafford before eventually depositing the rebound for his second goal of the season. That type of play is what people are expecting from him, I would imagine that this will continue now that he has found a comfort zone.
With Pat Kaleta returning tonight, I really hope Lindy Ruff places him with Matt Ellis and Cody McCormick. Not only do those three play a hard-nosed style without ever quitting, the Gerbe-Gaustad-Boyes line has been very impressive during Kaleta’s absence. It seems obvious that Boyes has recated well to both of his promotions (Gaustad line and power play) and will continue to play well with talented players. You don’t lose as much with Kaleta skating on the fourth line as you do when Boyes is on that line.
The Sabres managed to get it done again. A late October slum has been temporarily halted after a back-to-back sweep, the most recent win coming in a shootout against Ottawa.
Buffalo didn’t make the weekend easy. After a hard fought 2-1 victory over Calgary on Friday, the Sabres allowed the first goal and a poor tying marker to the Senators before closing them out in the skills competition.
Jhonas Enroth got the nod for the second-straight night, a pretty easy decision based on his recent play. While Enroth wasn’t the goaltender he had been over the previous three games, he gave the Sabres an opportunity to win the game.
Buffalo had a flat start from top to bottom, it wasn’t until midway through the second that anyone showed a spark. Luckily, most of the team was able to find their reserve tanks late in the weekend to get two points. Considering the situation, a three-for-four weekend would have been totally acceptable, the bonus point was exactly that. A bonus.
The Sabres can thank the Leino-Roy-Stafford line along with Nathan Gerbe for the victory. Gerbe’s incredible individual effort created Buffalo’s second goal while the Roy line was easily the best on the ice for Buffalo for the entire contest. Roy tallied in regulation and the shootout and the line continued to create chances and be generally effective in both zones.
Buffalo returns home for a pair of games this week, starting Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.
Ville Leino appears to have found his comfort zone within the Buffalo system. He has settled in nicely on the wing with Roy and Stafford – Buffalo’s closest line to the Briere and Harntell combo Leino skated with in Philly. Leino’s brilliant slap pass – yes, it wasn’t a shot – hit Roy on the tape for Buffalo’s first goal. It was nice to see him rewarded for three strong games in a row.
Tyler Myers had two games in Ottawa. He had a rough go for the first 30 minutes before finding his game in the latter 30. It seems clear that Myers is best when he is free skating and not trying to play a conservative style. When Myers plays aggressive and freestyles, he is an elite defenseman.
The Subway Line has been quiet for two games in a row. Vanek had a nifty SO tally and is still creating chances. The pucks will keep going in for those three, I feel a lot of their success rides on what kind of game Luke Adam is having. If Adam is struggling, ice time will vary as will the line’s center. When Adam is on, the line stays together and is able to click.
Brad Boyes continues to thrive in a more prominent role. Not to mention he had a great SO goal, but his real contributions are coming alongside Nathan Gerbe and Paul Gauastad.
I’m interested to see where Tyler Ennis will land once he is healthy. He struggled a bit through the first few games before getting injured. Now, Leino has settled in on one wing and Gerbe and Vanek are locked into their positions. It is tough to admit, but Ennis looks like the odd man out for the Sabres at this point.
Jhonas Enroth deserved the start against Ottawa. While he was fairly average, he made some strong saves and got the two points. Tuesday will be a perfect opportunity to bounce back with Ryan Miller, Enroth didn’t do anything on Saturday to merit a third-straight outing.
Jhonas Enroth played big and the Sabres turned in their first 60-minute effort at First Niagara Center this season. Yet, they only escaped with a 2-1 victory over a clearly fatigued Calgary Flames team.
We made it tough on ourselves. It was one of those nights where you hit an arm or a foot, but skating-wise I thought it was one of our best games of the year.
Ruff had more than a couple of thoughts from his press conference that noted his pleasure with his team’s effort while leaving room for improvement. He noted a short handed 2-on-1 late in the first period, which amounted to little more than a routine save for Enroth, as one of the few gaffes on the evening.
The Sabres imposed their will on the Flames for much of the game. Buffalo put 18 shots on goal in the first period, followed by 19 more in the second. Had it not been for Henrik Karlsson in the first period, Buffalo would have found the back of the net four or five times. Ruff mentioned the power play created five or six chances on their own in the first. Unfortunately the extra man unit wasn’t rewarded for their effort.
Buffalo’s penalty kill was three-for-three and raised their season total to 93%, they have killed off 40 of 43 opportunities thus far.
Enroth was a big part of the victory and was somehow robbed of one of the three stars on the night. He had an easy go early on, facing only 17 shots through two periods, but turned aside 12 of 13 in the third period and finished with 29 saves. He certainly made Ruff’s decision tough going into tomorrow’s game in Ottawa after stringing together a shutout streak of 107:39 over his past three appearances.
The Sabres head to Ottawa tomorrow to face one of the four teams they are tied with for fifth in the Eastern Conference. Ottawa dropped a 2-1 game, at home, to Montreal this evening.
Corey Tropp made his NHL debut tonight, logging 6:19 on eight shifts. He had one great opportunity in the first period when he chased down a loose puck, unfortunately he couldn’t settle the puck to get a chance on net. “I thought his energy was good,” Ruff said. “For his first NHL game, with his ice time – the fact that we had the six minutes in power plays in the first period limited the first line’s minutes – but they had some great shifts at the right times for us.”
Brad Boyes was another player who benefited from a new role in the wake of Pat Kaleta’s suspension. Boyes skated on the wing with Paul Gaustad and Nathan Gerbe, a line that had seen some minutes late last season as well. They were very effective together and Gerbe put them on the board with an emphatic one-timer in the third.
With Tropp skating with the “fourth line” and Boyes up with the “third” the Sabres appeared to have great balance through all four lines. Boyes, who has been fantastic since his promotion to the power play, looked right at home with Gaustad and Gerbe, giving those two some additional scoring seems like the right decision to make for the foreseeable future. While this is only one game, perhaps Ruff will put Kaleta down with Ellis and McCormick once he returns from his suspension. When asked in his presser, Ruff didn’t tip his hat as to any changes upon Kaleta’s return next week.
For the first time all season, all six defensemen looked as if they belong in an NHL game. Not one pairing appeared to be the weak link. Tyler Myers and Andrej Sekera are very comfortable together and the remaining pairs looked to work well too.
Ville Leino, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford comprised Buffalo’s best line this evening. The trio created Buffalo’s first goal – with a big assist to Sekera – and were dangerous for the whole night. Leino seems to have found a comfort zone with these two and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to split them up.
For my money, you start Ryan Miller tomorrow in Ottawa. Something tells me Ruff will stick with the hot hand and ride Enroth once more. However, Miller is the franchise for a reason and is more than capable of bouncing back with a strong effort. He is due for a good game at the very least.
Enroth had a stellar third period and made more than a few big saves throughout the night. Credit the team for limiting Calgary’s chances for most of the contest and keeping things simple for the young Swede. More games like that is exactly what Buffalo needs from their backup. It is a crime he didn’t get one of the three stars tonight.
Thanks to Thomas Vanek, Luke Adam and Jason Pominville, plenty of Buffalonians will be eating free subs after home games this season. The people at Subway will be second guessing their decision to say three goals is all the Sabres need to score in order to qualify for the free sandwich.
I understand that the Senators had the Pizza Line a few years ago, but this is not an imitation of the Sens power line. This is a different giveaway and a different set of players.
The Sabres’ power line racked up seven points (2+5) and Pominville earned first star honors for his effort this evening. Brad Boyes and Pat Kaleta also factored in the scoring for the Sabres.
Buffalo nearly gave back another two-goal lead at home before Kaleta’s go-ahead tally late in the third. After a sound first period, the Sabres slept walked through much of the second and third period. Two defensive gaffes by the Sabres resulted in the Columbus goals. This time the Sabres were able to battle back and lock down their first home win.
The first period featured two fights, 30 shots and Buffalo’s first home power play goal of the season. After Pominville’s tally in the second, the Sabres took a break. Vinny Prospal scored on a transition play created by a Christian Ehrhoff turnover and Fedor Tyutin tied the game in the third period.
Kaleta’s winner came at the end of a hard shift for Buffalo’s grind line and Pominville sealed it with a late power play goal.
Jhonas Enroth had another great outing and potentially made a case to get back in the crease sooner than a week from now.
The Sabres power play finally got clicking, going 2-for-3 on the night. They didn’t get much help from the zebras, the Sabres were whistled for six minors. Still, Buffalo managed to exploit openings in the Blue Jackets penalty kill in order to score their goals. Boyes’ tally came off a beautiful passing play on the rush, while Pominville’s was equally pretty as Vanek found him from behind the net.
Despite having a tough turnover that resulted in a goal, Ehrhoff did some things well tonight. He was shut off at the point, but his volley into the corner helped set up Kaleta’s winner. Ehrhoff seems to be settling in a bit and looks to have developed a comfort zone with his partner, Andrej Sekera.
The Sabres didn’t give a full 60 minutes, as some might say. They allowed an inferior team to put 43 shots on goal while taking six penalties. While the Sabres have the luxury of two goaltenders who can bail them out of that situation, the defense needs to be shored up. This is the perfect opportunity to insert Mike Weber into the lineup.
Weber could replace Marc-Andre Gragnani without missing a beat. Gragnani seems to be a little anxious when he has the puck on his stick and he has not been sound in his own zone. Simply put, the Sabres have too many offensive defenseman in the lineup. They need a little more responsibility in their top six.
Enroth was a bear in net. He had a few awkward moments, but that is going to be commonplace for the youngster. Enroth plays an almost uncomfortable style that can make fans nervous when a shot comes through. He probably didn’t earn a start on Saturday, but he should see time at least once next week.
Pat Kaleta scoffed a bit at The Code when he declined a fight with Cody Bass before obliging him shortly thereafter. As it turns out he has a pretty nasty cut and infection on his nose, not something that was noticeable in-arena. However, he made it his mission to run Vinny Prospal through the glass any chance he had in the third period. That is the type of play I want to see more of from Kaleta.
Yes, Tyler Myers had a few tough shifts. He definitely doesn’t appear to be at 100% efficiency just yet. Perhaps he has a few offseason habits he needs to kick. Who knows? He had a few tough plays this evening but also made a handful of smart, sound plays as well. It is too easy for Sabres fans to pile on these players after one or two bad plays. Evaluate the player’s entire game or don’t evaluate it at all.
Matt Ellis dressed and the Sabres won. You can’t deny that the dude would run through a wall if needed. It will be hard to take him out of the lineup.
Brad Boyes has come alive. He had a great game against the Panthers and has started finding the net once again. He is certainly benefitting from playing with the team’s two hottest scorers on the power play. But he is showing quite a bit of life. He is suddenly looking like the guy who went on a tear from the first game he arrived in Buffalo.