Overreactions, 49th Edition: It could happen!

Approaching this game, the most feasible explanation for how the Sabres could end their 12-game losing streak on the road against a goaltender they’ve had trouble with would be simple: Don’t let the other team score.

(Ed note: The least feasible would be a team of angels assisting them in exceeding their capabilities.)

For the most part, Buffalo took care of that. And it worked.

Riding a horrible stretch of play into the final game before the NHL All-Star break, the Sabres found a way to get it done, stealing a 2-1 shootout victory in New Jersey.

“This is huge for us,” said Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold, who scored in regulation. “The past few week have been tough and challenging and we capped off a long, long road trip with a win. It was not a perfect game. We got outshot and outchanced but in the end we got a couple of big saves from Ryan. He kept us in the game and we were able to win in the shootout.”

Leopold’s fluky goal late in the first period was all the cushion Ryan Miller needed to get them a point, as he stopped 27 of 28 shots through 65 minutes. Jason Pominville scored in the third round of the shootout to extend it, and Nathan Gerbe scored the walk-off winner in round 4.

Buffalo pulled out two points despite registering a mere 14 shots on goal through regulation and overtime.

The Sabres hit the mid-season siesta sitting 14th place in the Eastern Conference, ten points out of a playoff spot with 33 games remaining.

  • Ryan Miller, when he plays like this, is worth every penny. He needs to be surrounded with talent. I truly think, as bad as this team is, that he can be part of the solution instead of being considered a problem.
  • In the talk about what’s wrong with the team, and how injuries can’t be an excuse, the one valid argument in this recent run of horrible play is how much the absence of Christian Ehrhoff hurt. Tyler Myers is clearly not in a position to carry this team as a #1 defenseman, and without Ehrhoff, the team suffered. Ehrhoff played a team high 24:27 in his first game back. Having him in the lineup makes this team remarkably better defensively.
  • Thomas Vanek’s pressing hard and the results aren’t there. The team’s going nowhere if he can’t start getting the results.
  • Robyn Regehr’s return was also a big help. He was incredibly solid. Having the veteran presence on the back end was missed.
  • With 33 games remaining, the indispensable Sports Club Stats has the Sabres with a 0.6% chance of making the playoffs. To earn a playoff spot, they’ll need to get approximately 95 points. They have 45. It’s going to take at least 23 wins in 33 games. Pack it in, guys. No need for a heroic run to 10th.
  • Jordan Leopold now has eight goals this season. He’s tied for fifth on the team in scoring. He’s been struggling terribly over this rough patch, but I think he’s definitely in a better spot to contribute when Ehrhoff and Regehr are back in.
  • Luke Adam played just seven shifts for 4:39 in his last game before heading to Ottawa for All-Star Weekend. His last goal was December 17. He’s playing mere minutes a game. Maybe this weekend will be a nice confidence boost. If he doesn’t start putting up points or earning a regular shift, they gotta put him in Rochester once they get another forward healthy. This kid needs to be a part of the team’s future. He has to develop properly. Having him play five minutes on the fourth line isn’t going to do that. He’d be better off playing 20 minutes a night and being a force in the AHL than being an afterthought on the bench.
  • Derek Roy took a couple of penalties (the only two penalties the team took) which obviously drew the ire of the fans. I honestly thought he was really good in the first period. His presence still might be a problem, but he’s not killing them.
  • 14 shots on goal. Incredibly awful. Incrediful.
  • Drew Stafford played well. There was mention during the broadcast of how he was good friends with Zach Parise. If he’s part of the Sabres’ long term plans, they should have him making phone calls once July 1 rolls around.
  • Anyone wanna bet Jason Pominville gets picked last in the All-Star Fantasy Draft? I think he’s a clubhouse leader. No disrespect to Jason, but if he doesn’t want the car, I’ll take it off his hands.

Posted on January 25, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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