Well now that I have had time to absorb what occurred in the confines of the First Niagara Center, I think I can evaluate, think being the operative word…
As was expected the Sabres came out of the gate flying, scoring 2 quick goals right at the beginning of the first period. If history were to repeat itself, the Sabres would have gone on to bury the Lightning after chasing one or both of the goalies through the course of the game. However, there was a different story line that would be playing out on Tuesday night.
After a dominating 10 minutes, someone turned off the “lets play hockey” switch and Tampa, along with excessive assistance from the referees, followed suit with very strong play. I’m not going to take anything away from the Lightning here, they played a pretty solid game and their goaltending was nothing short of superb. Mathieu Garon stopped a flurry of shots throughout the game, including 17 in the third period, and prevent the Sabres from getting their first win at home this season.
Now I know I just said I wasn’t going to take anything away from Tampa, BUT, they had a lot of assistance from the ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS officiating. Seriously, this was by for the worst officiating I have ever seen at a Sabres game, ever. If anyone can offer up a logical explanation as to why Thomas Vanek was not awarded a penalty shot on a breakaway in the second period, by all means go for it. Vanek was hooked from behind right before he was about to shoot the puck over a down and out Garon, and Victor Hedman was called for the penalty. I’m sorry, but that is just ridiculous on every single level, that should have been a penalty shot, no questions asked.
Another ridiculous call was made in the third period against Cody McCormick for goaltender interference. Really, would you like to explain to me exactly how he interfered with the goaltender, when he, himself, was interfered with? Honestly, if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense! (But really ref’s, open your bleeping eyes!)
This is not to say the Sabres played spectacularly, because they really didn’t, but had some of those calls gone their way and they didn’t take their foot off the gas after the first 10 minutes, there was a very good chance of them winning that game. Yes, I am even comfortable saying that with Miller playing the way he did, Myers struggling mightily and Derek Roy being, well Derek Roy.
One of my personal favorite events from the evening came after the game while driving home with my dad listening to the post game show. Someone called in and basically ripped the Sabres for signing Tyler Myers, saying he was not worth the money they paid for him. Wait… WHAT!?!?! Thats a joke correct (I know thats what you are all thinking), but no it is not a joke. Tyler Myers is our franchise defenseman, he is worth every single penny they gave him and its absolutely laughable because if they wouldn’t have signed him, that same guy would have been calling saying “I can’t believe they didn’t sign him.”
Does he have a bad game every once in a while? Yes. Will he continue to have those games? Yes. People, he’s 21 years old, playing as the #1 or # defenseman on a team that many people expect to contend for the Cup, cut the kid a little slack. We have a very solid d-corps,if one of them is playing poorly, its the responsibility of the other 5 to step up and help out.
Now, onto tonight’s game. Oh, the Columbus Blue Jackets, what to say about them. Well they won the first game of their season on Tuesday against the then undefeated Detroit Red Wings. They made some big offseason acquisitions (see Carter and Wisniewski) and hope to pull themselves out of the rut they have fallen into after their only playoff appearance 3 seasons ago.
The Sabres have played the Jackets 13 times since they came into the league in 2000 and have a 4-5-1 record against them in the last ten. I personally find this record interesting because the Sabres normally fare pretty well against Western Conference teams, but not COlumbus for some reason.
Enroth is expected to start in goal tonight and Ryan Miller will be given a chance to clear his head from two embarrassing losses where his play was not exactly strong. Tyler Ennis will miss tonights game as he is still recovering from his “lower body” injury, as will Jochen Hecht, who is making progress towards a return. I also feel its about time to get Mike Weber into the line-up, especially with Wisniewski returning from his suspension tonight, added grit will be a plus.
Many say the third time is the charm, well hopefully all those people are right. A home win will do wonders for this team right now, as well as all the fans who are starting to get restless. And I’ll leave you all with this thought, it’s 8 games into the season, the world is not crashing down around this team, take a step back and calm down.
Sabres Forward Lines:
Vanek (7-4) – Adam (3-4) – Pominville (2-8)
Leino (1-1) – Roy (1-3) – Stafford (3-2)
McCormick (0-1) - Ellis (0-1) - Boyes (1-2)
Kaleta (0-0) - Gaustad (1-1) - Gerbe (2-3)
Hecht (0-0) – Ennis (0-0)
Defense Pairings -
Myers (0-2) - Regehr (0-0)
Leopold (1-1) - Ehrhoff (1-4)
Gragnani (0-3) - Sekera (0-2)
Goaltending – Jhonas Enroth (1-0)
Ryan Miller (4-2)