1)I learned that I’m still a little bit puzzled about this team. Here I am, thinking that this team was going to play 2-1 games that we’ve seen over the whole season, yet during the trip the team played some pretty entertaining hockey. The big question is whether the Sabres brought out their own offensive skills or was it the style of play from the opposition that made them do it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy as hell that they didn’t lure me to sleep during their late night games, but the fact is the team lost four straight to end the trip and was only able to get six of a possible 14 points.
2) I learned that you can look at this road trip as being either a glass half-full or half empty, and I wouldn’t really argue with you. On the half-full part, the Sabres showed that they could skate with some of the best NHL teams in the West. It wasn’t as if the Sabres were blown off the ice. On the other hand, you saw the Sabres put in a pretty good effort and still lose against some of the best of the west.
I’ll have to go with the half empty rhetoric by a sip. Look, the Sabres played well on the trip and the fact that I’m looking at perspective Stanley Cup match-ups is a good thing. But there’s no way they can beat a team like the Sharks or Canucks in a best of seven series. I think they have a better shot against someone like Chicago, because their goaltending is very suspect. But against those teams, with that scoring offense and all-world goaltending, you’re going to have to show me more (or make a trade).
3) I learned that if the Western Conference teams played in the larger markets in the Eastern Conference, the NHL would be a hell of a lot more popular. Those teams play a fun, wide open style that reminds me of what the NHL looked like after the lockout. You think the NHL wouldn’t mind it if the Sharks played in NYC. With that being said, I’m so looking forward to being bored to tears when the Sabres play the Devils on Wednesday.
4) I learned that Ryan Miller hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire as of late. Over the last week, Miller’s GAA is 2.57, with a save percentage of less than .900. I don’t know if it has a lot to do with the Olympics being on his mind or he’s getting tired, but his play of late has been a little reminiscent of last year. Now, I’m not going to sit here and bag on the Sabres MVP. I think his play has to do with his defense (Steve Montadour) and forwards trying too hard to keep up with the Western teams by forgetting to play two-way hockey. I guess if you want more offense you’re going to have to lose some of your defense. The biggest thing I wanted to learn was how the Sabres played if Miller had an off night, well, he had a couple of those and they lost. But at least they were entertaining.
5) I learned that although he hasn’t exactly been my favorite Sabre, Tim Connolly is playing his best hockey since the Senators playoff series from 2006. Everything the guy is doing from skating and passing to actually believing in his shot has been exceptional. Connolly has always been a riddle wrapped in a enigma. On certain nights the guy looks like he should be the poster boy for the Sabres and on other nights I would love to jettison him to Parts Unknown with Miro Satan, Max and Mike Wilson. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if the Sabres decide not to make a deal for a play-making center, they are going to need Connolly to play like this every night in the playoffs.
6)I learned that for all you hockey apologists who love to crap on the NFL for its officiating (Mike Schopp), Kerry Fraser proves that your league has some referee issues. But at least he’s retiring.
6B) I learned that Ice Girls from LI are AWESOME?!
6C) I don’t care if the Canucks and Sharks broadcasts offered naked pictures of the Ice Girls and 3D vision of the game, it’s a complete joke that this organization has to save money by not having their broadcasters…well, broadcast.
The interesting thing moving forward will be how the team plays against the mediocre Eastern conference. At the end of the season we may look back at this trip as being a time when the Sabres found a bit of their offense and brought it back to Buffalo to cure their scoring ineptness against the Eastern teams. However, the trip could be a time when we say that the Sabres stay at home defense was exploited. Either way, I learned that Western Conference hockey is a lot of fun.