Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sabres vs. Sens 2/25/11 - The One Where Mike Grier Scored On A Breakaway. No, Really.

Recap (

Remember when it seemed like we'd never beat Ottawa again? 

With four wins in five games against the Senators this season, that feels like ancient history, doesn't it?  All of a sudden, Ottawa is our new Toronto- show up at the arena, receive two points, move on to the next game.  All that's missing is the deluge of obnoxious blue and white-clad fans from the north.

Of course, it hasn't really been that easy.  All three previous wins were by a single goal, with one coming in OT and another in a shootout.  An Ottawa team that fielded a large number of call-ups from Binghamton was determined to make the Sabres earn these two points as well.  And earn them they did - Buffalo hit Ottawa early and often and skated circles around those AHLers for the most part, spending enough time in the Ottawa zone to earn party-guest-who-wouldn't-leave status while getting 38 shots on newly acquired Craig Anderson.  A few less goalposts and a bit more finish, and the endgame wouldn't have been so tense.

  • Mike Grier scored.  On a breakaway. Yes, that Mike Grier.  The same one who has been left for dead by the fanbase, the one who looks like he needs a defibrillator 20 seconds into a shift.  The one who plays with noted offensive luminaries such as Paul Gaustad and Rob Niedermayer. In response, Twitter servers nearly melted from the assault of "Mike Grier???!?!?!?!?!" tweets, and half a day later I'm still happily dumbfounded. 
  • Jochen Hecht scored.  On a one-timer.  Yes, that Jochen Hecht.  The same one who whiffs on that one-timer every. single. time.
  • Cody McCormick scored.  Yes, that Cody McCormick.  The same one who seems to have been finding ways to get himself in great scoring position all season long.  (Wait, I think I killed my theme here.)  Like most folks, I hadn't cared for Cody McCormick's game lately - but his goal in the second that made it 2-1 was a prime example of what's made him so successful this year.
  • Despite being held off the scoresheet and posting a -2, I thought Nathan Gerbe was great in this game.  He made a couple nice plays, most notably when he kept the puck in at the blue line, danced around a Senator,and fed Patrick Kaleta down low for a one-touch pass to Chris Butler, resulting in a great scoring chance.  Gerbe has, at the very least, started to prove some of his doubters wrong.  Although he's not all the way there yet, I like where his game is headed.  I think he fits in very nicely on a line with Kaleta and Cody McCormick because he isn't afraid to get dirty at all.  If only everyone on the roster played with his tenacity...
  • The first goal Ottawa scored was just plain ugly.  I did not like that it happened after a Sabres 4-on-1, I didn't like that Tyler Myers got himself caught, and I didn't like that all three Sabres forwards coasted to the bench afterwards as Spezza took off the other way.  But to note that this was the only cringe-inducing event in the game is, I suppose, a good thing.
Next game: Tonight, the Red Wings come to town.  The Wings sit 2nd in the West with 80 points, but are just 6-4 in their last ten games and have lost two in a row after a five-game winning streak.

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