Overreactions, Playoff Edition: Game 6

Things looked pretty good early on, huh?

Buffalo stormed out to a 2-0 lead in the first ten minutes, a game reminiscent of past series-clinching Game 6 blowouts of the Flyers. Even after Daniel Briere got loose and cut the score to 2-1, Thomas Vanek’s second powerplay goal near the end of the first seemed to ease the tension. But if there’s a lesson to be learned about this Flyers team, it’s that they don’t quit.

Scott Hartnell cancelled Buffalo’s third period lead and Ville Leino outworked Chris Butler to jam home a rebound at 4:43 of overtime to give Philadelphia a 5-4 overtime victory and force a decisive Game 7 on Tuesday.

Ryan Miller made 44 saves for Buffalo, while Brian Boucher got the win for the Flyers after the Sabres chased starter Michael Leighton.

“We haven’t done it the easy way, and we’re not going to bail out now,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve got to win the next one.”

Buffalo had to finish the game without Tim Connolly as the center, who throughout the series had been near the top of the roster in ice time, was injured after being boarded from behind by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in the second period. Richards was given just a minor penalty and later added assists on the tying and winning goals.

He will not be suspended by the league, as stated by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, and going along with the NHL’s track record of being clueless when it comes to supplemental discipline.

So, after an extremely tight six games, featuring two overtime decisions, we get Game 7 Tuesday. Buffalo’s fought their way this far. Will it end this week?

  • The thing I fear having to listen to after this series is that Peter Laviolette is a good coach. Philadelphia’s got a much better roster outside the crease, and there’s a reason they’re the 2-seed in this conference. His handling of his goaltenders has been abysmal. If he would’ve left Bobrovsky in this whole series, I think there’s a good chance they would’ve advanced already. Instead they’ve got the rookie who carried the load this season looking like basketcase in the press box.
  • Say what you want about Tim Connolly, but for the most part he’s been good in this series. The team will miss him, especially on the penalty kill. Buffalo will suffer for having two of their top four penalty killers out injured.
  • Thomas Vanek’s second goal was a goalscorer’s goal. Brilliant heads-up play.
  • With Tim Connolly leaving a vacancy on the top powerplay unit, I want to see Tyler Ennis in his spot. The kid has been the most dynamic player on either team the last few games. Give him the chance to work the wall and keep Stafford and Vanek down low.
  • Speaking of Stafford, that 2-on-1 with Ennis that ended with Drew hitting the post behind Boucher in the third period looks even more unfortunate now. That shot, along with Vanek’s shot from the circle right before Leino’s overtime goal are regrettable results right now.
  • Here are the NHL’s top 3 defenseman in points this playoffs: 1. Marc-Andre Gragnani, 2. Duncan Keith, 3. Shea Weber.
  • The Sabres have lost in regulation just once with Matt Ellis in the lineup this season. Unfortunately, there’s no point for overtime losses in the playoffs.
  • Paul Gaustad is going to have to score a playoff goal eventually, right?
  • It remains to be seen whether or not Jochen Hecht will be available for Game 7, but you’d think Lindy Ruff might be tempted to insert him for his work on the penalty kill with Connolly and Pominville out.
  • Buffalo has allowed the third most shots per game in the playoffs. Whatever ends up happening, you’ve got to look at the Sabres defense and be impressed that they did so much with so little. Andrej Sekera has been missed dearly.

Posted on April 25, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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