Overreactions, Playoff Edition: Game 3

(Apologies for the absence… if I don’t feel I get enough of the game to have opinions, I keep my mouth shut.)

The series is starting to slip away.

After winning a tight Game 1, the bounces just haven’t gone the Sabres’ way. After allowing an early goal that silenced the home crowd, the Sabres were never able to grab the lead and the Flyers walked out of HSBC Arena Monday night after handing Buffalo a 4-2 defeat, giving Philadelphia a 2-1 series lead.

“The results aren’t good enough,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “The problem is when you’re chasing the lead all night, you’re going to give up some opportunities. It’s tough to chase it. You don’t want to start off by giving them the lead.”

Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe scored for Buffalo. Marc-Andre Gragnani added two assists and is the only player on the Sabres with points in all three games.

Ryan Miller made 22 saves. After being spectacular in Game 1, he’s been decidedly average in the two losses. He sits in the middle of the pack among playoff goaltenders in every statistic, and has been outplayed by Brian Boucher since the Flyers stuck the veteran in net.

For a team that entered the postseason full of confidence, the team has looked lackluster and passive for most of the last two games. Can they snag a win in Game 4? There’s no reason they can’t. But based on their performance so far, it’s a little hard to see them winning three of the next four against a Flyers team that hasn’t trailed much since switching goaltenders.

  • Gragnani has been Buffalo’s best defenseman and arguably their best player so far this series. His four assists are tied for the league lead. He’s the only player with a positive +/- rating on the roster. Last season, it was Cody McCormick who jumped in and earned himself a contract and roster spot for next season. It’s hard to imagine Gragnani missing from the lineup come October at this rate.
  • Anyone else have a problem with having Rob Niedermayer, no matter how well he’s playing, on your second line?
  • Since Lindy Ruff took over in 1997, this is the fourth time the Sabres have fallen behind 2-1 in a series after winning Game 1. The previous three? Washington in 1998 (lost in 6), Dallas in 1999 (lost in 6) and Boston in 2010 (lost in 6).
  • Tim Connolly’s been a beast on faceoffs this series. He’s won 61.5% of his draws so far. His special teams work has been very good, but he’s gotta bring more at even strength. Sadly, you might be able to argue he’s been the team’s best overall forward so far.
  • At what point does Lindy Ruff realize that Matt Ellis’ absence is hindering the Sabres’ ability to win? Matt Ellis doesn’t lose.
  • Patrick Kaleta, when on the ice, has been a fairly important piece in this series. He clearly gets under the skin of the Flyers, and his energy was missing after he got hurt in Game 3.
  • Buffalo’s top four players in ice-time in this series: Chris Butler, Tyler Myers, Tim Connolly and Marc-Andre Gragnani. If I would’ve told you this in November, I’d expect you to ask me who’s supplying the narcotics.
  • Hard to get on the Sabres’ top guys for not producing. The top line (Thomas Vanek, Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville) while somewhat quiet, are among the Sabres’ top six in points, as well as leading goal scorer Drew Stafford. It’s the secondary guys such as Tyler Ennis and Brad Boyes (zero points combined) who must make an impact if this team has any chance of winning this series.
  • Steve Montador may be playing his way out of a new contact this series. Has not looked good at all.
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Posted on April 19, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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