Overreactions, Playoff Edition: Game 7

And so it ends.

Facing a do-or-die situation in Philadelphia, one game to move on or go home, the Buffalo Sabres were outplayed from the outset. After a tight series of tight games, the Flyers never let the Sabres have a chance to advance in the decisive game, cruising to a 5-2 win to end Buffalo’s season.

It’s a frustrating finish to an exciting season. After being 20 minutes away from advancing in Game 6, the Sabres will regret the blown chances they had to close out the Flyers. Banged up and missing key players for the final showdown, the team couldn’t get it done.

“There were some guys who were able to muster up energy, some other guys played more than their role, but those guys emptied their tanks for me,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “For four months, we asked them to go above and beyond and they did.”

Ryan Miller was chased for the first time this series, giving way to Jhonas Enroth’s playoff debut after surrendering four goals. Tyler Myers and Brad Boyes added goals for Buffalo, but the outcome was never in doubt.

Philadelphia came out flying, outshooting the Sabres 16-2 in the first. Buffalo almost weathered the storm, with Ryan Miller standing on his head. The Flyers broke through when Mike Grier tried blocking a point shot from Philly’s Brayden Coburn, getting enough of it to throw off Ryan Miller and let it skitter between his legs with less than 20 seconds to go in the first.

The Flyers were able to pull away in the second, getting powerplay goals from Daniel Briere and James van Riemsdyk.

  • It was obvious early on that the Sabres looked completely different in Game 7 than they did all series, and the lineup was reflective of that. Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht and Mark Mancari all made their series debuts, and Andrej Sekera returned from injury. Any chemistry the team had going disappeared. It took a while for Lindy Ruff to find good line combinations, and the Sabres never recovered.
  • Brad Boyes will get a lot of heat for failing to produce this series, but he came through with a third period goal in Game 7. That’s clutch, right?
  • I’m not one to criticize coaching, but I can’t help but feel that Lindy’s “keep them loose” mentality backfired. Philly came ready to play, Buffalo didn’t. A team should come out with energy in a Game 7. Buffalo’s slow start doomed them.
  • Did Philadelphia move itself back to the top of many Sabres’ fans lists of “teams I can’t stand” after this series? Personally, they were always there, but they widened the gap a bit. I’m openly rooting for their next opponent.
  • The Sabres definitely missed Patrick Kaleta. Whether his antics work or not, I think it takes the heat off some of the other players to swing momentum.
  • Losing Jason Pominville hurt, but losing Connolly was the death blow. It was two powerplay goals by Philadelphia that ended Buffalo’s hope in the 2nd period. The penalty kill was 2-for-4 after Connolly got hurt, not counting Hartnell’s goal five seconds after the end of a penalty late in Game 6.
  • Derek Roy didn’t look horrible, but it took him a while to shake off the rust… understandably so after missing over four months of action. Stepping into a Game 7 is a lot to ask of a player in that situation. Roy played 20:01 and added an assist on the Boyes goal.
  • Unfortunate way for Mike Grier to go out as a Sabre, but I don’t anticipate him returning next season. He played just 3:12 and was clearly laboring. It’s admirable he did what he could, but he’s done.
  • Andrej Sekera was missed by the team while he was out, but he looked tentative early in his return, and it hurt him. Sekera is at his best when he’s got the confidence to do things himself, and when he’s unsure, he makes mistakes. He seemed to make many in the first period.
  • James van Riemsdyk was a difference maker in this series for the Flyers. He’s another example of what can happen when a perennial good team has a down year and is willing to tank. Picked 2nd overall just a few years ago, he’s going to be a star. The Sabres’ unwillingness to bottom out when they’re bad keeps guys like that out of the system.
  • Jochen Hecht shouldn’t have been playing. Clearly wasn’t ready. Looked slow and lost at times. Unfortunate that it had to come to that, but Matt Ellis would’ve been more effective in my opinion.

So… when’s development camp?

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Posted on April 27, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Overreactions, Playoff Edition: Game 7.

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