Buffalo, playing with five players who began the season in Rochester, looked over their heads many times in the game. Particularly in the third period. In particular, the second Senators goal came after prolonged play in the Buffalo zone and a turnover at the blue line by Paul Szczechura.
Lindy Ruff’s system isn’t all that complicated. He preaches puck possession and responsible play in zone. The basic idea is that if your team has the puck, the other team can’t score. It would appear that the depleted Sabres roster is thin on players capable of truly executing this system. Look no further than the shots Bufallo has been giving up lately. A puck possession team shouldn’t surrender 35 or more shots on a regular basis.
Ruff did show great faith in Ryan Miller, sending him back to the crease after his five-goal embarrassment on Saturday. He made some big saves as looked in control of his space this evening. His stat line will again show three goals against, not doing much for that astronomical 3.02 he entered with. However, he turned aside 35 shots and can’t hold much responsibility on any of the three goals he allowed. Earning third star honors and giving that type of performance shouldn’t be too disheartening to Sabres fans.
In fact, if you were to ignore Saturday, it would appear that Ryan Miller may be slowly finding his way out of the woods. He probably doesn’t have as nice of an iPhone compass as Ilya.
- One last note on Miller, Ottawa’s second goal came on a rebound that struck him in the mask. The ice-level replay clearly showed that at least one strap had become unhooked. Now, this had no effect on his ability to stop the cross-crease feed that led to the goal, but it would have been nice if a referee had stopped play early on that one.
- Derek Whitmore certainly showed he has some NHL skill in him. As a late college free agent, Whitmore’s career trajectory probably was going to end in the AHL. He has carved out a nice niche as a reliable scorer in the AHL and has now shown he can skate at the NHL level. He still looks similar to Szczechura, however – a depth NHL forward who would likely be 13 or 14 on the depth chart.
- Marcus Foligno was -1 with two hits. He looked as if he needs a bit more time to develop his skating. He certainly has the ability to translate into a third or fourth line banger with some scoring touch. Not sure if his potential goes much higher than that. Still, a good showing in his first NHL game.
- Thomas Vanek scored yet again, if the Hart was voted on regarding how valuable the player’s contributions to his team are – not incorporating league-wide stats etc. – Vanek might just be the runaway leader. Without him the Sabres would be looking at a lottery pick.
- Jordan Leopold and Mike Weber had a rough night. They combined for two sloppy plays on the first two Ottawa goals. These things happen from game to game, but the mistakes are magnified lately with the number of missing regulars.
- Daniel Alfredsson has been kept fairly quiet in this season’s series against Ottawa. It is awfully nice considering that mustache is the worst thing I have ever seen.
1. Eric Condra
2. Craig Anderson
3. Ryan Miller