Overreactions, 11th Edition: Awful start dooms Sabres

It’s hard to win a hockey game in the first ten minutes, but as the Sabres proved on Wednesday night, you can sure as hell lose one in ten minutes.

The Sabres only needed 6:23.

That’s how long Ryan Miller lasted in net before he got chased by Philadelphia. The Flyers scored three quick goals to start the game and held off a resurgent Sabres squad for the rest of the night, winning by a score of 3-2.

Goals by Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk and Scott Hartnell were enough to make the difference.

“It’s things we talked about throughout the first part of the week, about being better with the puck, and we weren’t,” Sabres captain Jason Pominville said. “The message is there, we have to go out and do it.”

Buffalo was able to turn their game around with Jhonas Enroth replacing Miller, as Enroth stopped all 15 shots he faced and the Sabres got goals from Andrej Sekera and Luke Adam. With many chances to tie it, including a point-blank opportunity by Thomas Vanek in the final seconds, the home team failed to win yet again.

Miller finished with 8 saves on 11 shots. His GAA ballooned from 2.14 to 2.49, and his save percentage dropped from .930 to .922. The stats supporting his arguable strong play to this point provide a much weaker case now.

  • No one here wants a goaltending controversy. There shouldn’t be one. There really isn’t one. But you have a guy like Ryan Miller who’s playing well for the most part but not getting wins, and you have a guy like Jhonas Enroth, who’s playing extremely well and doesn’t lose. Enroth was stellar in relief tonight. With a back-to-back this weekend, both goalies were probably going to get a start. Ruff should go with the rookie Friday at home, and let Miller refocus and get the road game Saturday.
  • Mike Weber surely wanted to have a better game to secure a spot in the lineup. He was extremely shaky early, but settled in and made some nice plays later on. He gets deserved credit for standing up for his teammates at the end of the second period.
  • Lots of pregame chatter about Ville Leino as his former team visited. He played one of his better games of the season once he was put with Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. He finished even in 19:51 of ice time. Still, the lack of production is hurting.
  • Best three Sabres on the ice tonight: Thomas Vanek, Andrej Sekera and Jhonas Enroth. Pretty much everyone else fell somewhere between “average” and “awful.”
  • Failing to pull out two points, or even one point, against a Flyers team missing Chris Pronger and Daniel Briere is incredibly disheartening. When you’re presented with advantageous opportunities, it’s crucial you come away with something. The team is in worse shape than they were before they took the ice.
  • Back to Thomas Vanek, the team was clearly lacking his presence while he was unavailable during the second and third periods. The guy is so important to the offense. He came back and helped create a goal.
  • Luke Adam was the second star, but I can’t say he was one of the three best players on the ice tonight. He just happened to get some good bounces, picking up an assist on Sekera’s bank-shot goal and scoring one of his own as a pass bounced into the net.
  • The powerplay looked good without actually producing. The team has to figure out how to get shots from the point through. Too often they tend to try forcing it through and end up finding a defender’s shinpad. Puck movement up top needs some work.
  • Nice stat of the night: Derek Roy was 17 of 25 on faceoffs. The team won 65% of their draws.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It’s refreshing to see Vanek having such an impact on the team considering last season at times, it felt like it didn’t matter if he dressed or didn’t dress. Although, I wish the team could step up in his absence.

    I feel like Grangnani not being in the line-up today really reflected on their performance. I think he’s an integral player that needs to stay.

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