You might say the course of events the Sabres follow is becoming old hat. They find life with a victory and roll into their next game seeking a win streak. Inevitably they lose the game and at least one player to injury in the process. That script is certainly getting a lot of work.
The Sabres were three minutes from guaranteeing a point percentage of .750 between Friday and Saturday, unfortunately they surrendered a pair of late goals (one ENG) in their loss to the Islanders. An overtime or shootout loss to New York would have mattered little had the Sabres managed to secure the bonus point. Getting points three-quarters of the time will be necessary for the remainder of the season if there is any hope of making the playoffs.
Friday’s game was a well-played outing for almost the entire team. Ryan Miller played a strong game in goal, the Sabres got goals from their grinders and they took two points from a team their chasing. Mike Weber had an ugly night and Buffalo lost Brayden McNabb to an injury. Far from a flawless night, but it was a victory.
Saturday was a relatively flat effort. Again they allowed a team to pepper Jhonas Enroth with pucks. Enroth played a great game, but the onslaught he faced can easily explain why three goals found their way in. The fact that the Sabres even had a chance at a victory was a testament to the game Enroth put forth. Unfortunately the rookie was saddled with another loss, something that has become fairly regular with him.
Thomas Vanek rocked a penalty shot off the post with 90 seconds left. The shot was awarded on a bogus call that should have been ignored. Vanek, who was nicked up yet again, beat Nabokov but not the post. The Sabres couldn’t gain the zone beyond that point and eventually surrendered the empty net goal that iced the game.
It was a weekend series that was close to a guaranteed success and had the potential to be a monumental success were they to have won in overtime or the shootout. Unfortunately Saturday’s poor effort shrouded the work the team did on Friday at home.
Now the Sabres hit the road for games against some very hot hockey teams. The Red Wings and Blues are both winning tons of hockey games and the Jets may have the most hostile arena in the NHL. None of that bodes well for a team that has lost eight-straight on the road.
- The Sabres goaltenders allowed five goals over two games on the weekend. Ryan Miller kept his total below three goals for the second-straight game and Jhonas Enroth was solid in a losing effort. Sabres fans need to come to terms with weak goals, they happen in nearly every game. The key isn’t that a goalie allows a weak goal, but that he provides key saves later in the game. Miller made plenty of big stops on Friday (despite a weak first goal) and Enroth stood tall for the entire game on Satruday (even though the first goal was questionable).
- For the second time this season the Sabres defensive corps is ragged. Jordan Leopold and Tyler Myers have proven their capable of playing big minutes. However, Mike Weber and Grocery Stick Gragnani are currently number three and four on the depth chart. Andrej Sekera is close to a return, but Joe Finley doesn’t seem to have the chops to compete on a regular basis just yet. The Sabres desperately need to get healthy.
- While MAG has had a pretty brutal run as of late, Weber may take his spot in the doghouse. Weber has had a few rough games in a row handling the puck. He all but giftwrapped the two Toronto goals (particularly the second) on Friday. Given that he’s due some serious ice time in the coming days, his game needs to turn around.
- Myers has been strong since his return from injury. However, his game on Saturday was sloppy. He seems to be really pushing to be active in the play, no matter where the puck is. He was too deep on the second NYI goal and has been running around here and there. Fact: He is more effective when physical and engaging the play. Fact II: He hurts the team when his active play is irresponsible, which seems to be a trait that comes and goes.
- Vanek and Pominville are still beasts together. I can’t say enough about the way they have responded to their leadership roles. Might as well make Vanek a permanent ‘A’ and just pick two or three others to rotate the other letter.
- Losing Robyn Regehr will be a true eye-opener for this team. They have struggled defensively this season, but Regehr has been their most steady defender. His absence will be felt all over.