Delayed Overreactions, 78th Edition: That time the Sabres couldn’t beat Brent Johnson

Things were looking pretty swell at about 7:37 Friday night.

The Sabres were hot, sitting in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, and the visitors to First Niagara Center were sending their sieve backup goaltender to face Buffalo.

Things didn’t turn out so swell.

Two guys named Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were unstoppable for Pittsburgh and even the weakest of goaltending performances was enough to hand the Sabres a 5-3 loss.

Crosby had a goal and three assists and Malkin, the league’s leading scorer, added a goal and an assist to give backup goaltender Brent Johnson enough support to get the win in his first game since being chased on Hockey Day in America back in February.

“We won’t beat this thing to death,” Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold said. “There’s a simple formula, we just move forward. We know we can play better.”

Leopold, Tyler Ennis and Thomas Vanek scored for Buffalo, who struggled to bury their chances against Johnson, who was shaky throughout the night.

Ryan Miller stopped 29 shots for Buffalo, who struggled defensively without Christian Ehrhoff, out with a knee injury.

  • It was Fan Appreciation Night at First Niagara Center, which is great except for the fact that there were about 5,000 Pens fans there. Oddly enough, they celebrated it before the last home game, due to the influx of visiting fans for the finale. More evidence to the problems the organization is having with the crowd and atmosphere.
  • By my count, Brent Johnson didn’t actually catch a puck until midway through the third period. How that guy is an NHL goaltender is beyond me. The pure brilliance of Pittsburgh’s defense kept the Sabres to three goals.
  • Marcus Foligno was near invisible on the team’s best line. Not taking away anything from what he’s done, but looking individually at this game, he wasn’t very good.
  • Brooks Orpik was a beast for Pittsburgh.
  • Was very pleased with this year’s selection for Fan of the Year. Captured the spirit of the award.
  • Without Ehrhoff, Jordan Leopold got the bulk of the minutes and played quite well. Chipped in a key goal. Was all around solid facing a tough opponent.
  • The Sabres handed out “thundersticks” at the game. Clearly an effort (misguided, in my opinion) to try to create some crowd noise, but they failed to produce any results. It’s not about the fans not being loud enough. It’s about motivation and mindset. Think, McFly.
  • On the team awards, I’m of course pleased that they’ve returned in some capacity, but I’m still displeased that the history of them hasn’t been revived. The “Unsung Hero” award given to Patrick Kaleta makes no reference to the fact that they handed out an award to the team’s “Unsung Hero” every year from the beginning of the team’s existence until they stopped doing it in the bankruptcy years, and it was named for Tim Horton. The history of them has been erased. That needs to change.
  • Mike Weber, returning to the lineup after becoming the odd man out, was pretty good until he got hurt. Shame.
  • The arena was basically empty by the time they did the jersey giveaway after the game. No one seemed to be aware of the “balloon drop” they did. The whole night seemed rushed and hastily thrown together.

Posted on April 1, 2012, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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