Saturday, October 17, 2009

Recap: Game 5, Sabres vs. Islanders

Recap (courtesy Sabres.com)

Last night's game was the first home game I've missed this year.  It's a little less exciting watching the game on tape delay when you already know what happened.  Fortunately though, Sarah, my almost-two-year-old, livened things up by high-fiving everyone in the room anyways when the Sabres scored.  She doesn't care if it's not live.  We have this kid trained well.

This was the Sabres' weakest defensive effort by far in this young season.  It's a good thing it came against a team that didn't mind giving up six goals.  To me, it appeared that the forwards as a whole were rather sloppy in their own end - a number of times I saw defensemen in front of the net tying players up while Islander forwards were allowed to skate around in the high slot at their leisure.  On the flip side, it's about time Buffalo understood the benefits of going to the net.  I've been screaming about this for two years, and most everyone seems to have bought into this concept by now.  Crashing the net was at least partially responsible for three of the six Sabre goals (Myers, Connolly, Kaleta). 

Some random notes:
  • Congrats to Tyler Myers on his first NHL goal.   Paille made a nice play to prevent an icing call, and even though Stafford appeared to make the wrong choice in feeding a covered Gaustad instead of a wide-open Myers streaking to the net, it didn't matter because Tyler got himself in good position and cashed in when Goose whiffed on the shot. One of his biggest positives is his fearlessness in joining the rush, and this is a good example.
  • Speaking of Goose, he looked absolutely possessed when he attacked Jackman for running over Miller.  Good on him for his eagerness to correct a problem that everyone finally realized was serious when Miller got injured by Scott Gomez last year.  Someone should have attacked Hillen for running over Miller in the third, though.  Baby steps.
  • Miller was strong once again, stopping 36 Islander shots.  The second Islander goal is the only one so far this year that wasn't the result of a tip, screen, or a running of the goaltender (Moen in the Montreal game).  Furthermore, this one can only be blamed on Miller because he misplayed the puck, not because he missed a shot.  That's a pretty good stat for the fifth game of the year, no?
  • For a guy that's criticized for his consistency, Clarke MacArthur sure has been pretty solid this year, don't ya think?  Another nice play by the General in taking the body behind the net to set up the Connolly goal.  Don't look now but Clarke leads the Sabres in scoring.
  • On the first Islander goal, Myers was in front of the net and Tallinder was trailing an Islander along the boards, and Stafford should have recognized this and stayed with Moulson as he cruised into the slot.  I think he made a mistake in peeling off Moulson, allowing him to get the tip past Miller.
  • Jochen Hecht had by far his best game of the year.  He terrorized Islander goaltenders all night long, and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first goal of the year.  The odd thing was that the goal came on one of his weaker scoring chances.  Previously he had hit a post and deflected a puck just wide while parked in front of the net. 
  • Other than the icing prevention and a nice drive to the net on the Kaleta goal, I didn't notice Dan Paille too much.
  • Kaleta's goal celebration amuses me.  He looks like he's rolling a bowling ball.
  • I got goosebumps listening to the standing ovation that Marty Biron goal when he replaced Roloson.  I miss Marty and regret that we really had no choice when we traded him two years ago (we would have been over the cap if we hadn't, as I recall).  As soon as the Isles signed him to a one-year deal this summer, I realized that his contract and Lalime's both expire at the same time.  Paying attention, Darcy?  I'm gonna start a "Bring Back Marty" petition.
  • Finally: I frigging HATE these stupid Cellino and Barnes popups.  Go away, you annoying ambulance chasers. 
Next game: vs. Atlanta, 10/17.  Max Afinogenov makes his return to HSBC with a Thrashers team that has surprisingly lost only one game so far.  This is the second game of a back-to-back but that shouldn't matter because Atlanta played last night as well.

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